Elsa Boulet (University Paris IV and ENS Cachan) and Hugo Harari-Kermadec, IDHES – ENS Cachan and CEPN, Historical Materialism Conference, November 2013, London.
We study the ongoing marketisation of higher education in Europe, using the case study of an English university as an illustration. We use the concept of fetishism to focus on the transformation of the substance of higher education through the process of commodification. First, the ongoing reforms modify the production process in the universities through governance arrangements (norms, quality certification, rating, ranking, etc.) and other forms of the new spirit of capitalism (Boltanski and Chiapello 1999). These transformations have an ideological twin: specificities of science ideology must be removed or at least subordinated to the budget logic. A central moment of these two faces of the abstraction process is an operation of quantification (Desrosières 2008a, 2008b), which renders different activities commensurate, and turns differences in nature into magnitudes (Espeland and Stevens 1998). The final step of this abstraction process is the actual selling of teaching and research through tuition fees and patents or innovation consultancy. We conclude on the subjectivity of the resulting academics, producers of the knowledge commodity. Continuer la lecture