It was not until recently that universities became direct participants of capital’s accumulation processes, even if they had historically contributed to the reproduction of capitalism. Our aim in this article is precisely to contribute to acknowledge this transformation by further developing a theoretical explanation integrated to a Marxist analysis of today capitalism. In particular, following Levín (1997), we distinguish that a portion of world’s social capital has monopolized the capacity to plan and profit from innovation. The wide gap between capitals’ innovation capacity leaves those non-innovative with no other option but to accept being dominated and planned. It is in this context that we will suggest that universities’ integrate to direct capital’s accumulation structures. To do so, we will conceptually distinguish two successive transformations of universities: 1) the internal transformation of academic labor, adapting itself towards capitalist production processes, and 2) their adoption of capital enterprises’ characteristics resulting in exchanges of their products (teaching and research results), including the different bargaining power they have to decide the conditions of those exchanges. Considering the latter, we argue that universities’ adoption of capital enterprises’ characteristics can be better understood as a differentiated process. We suggest three types of differentiated market-university, according to the different capital enterprises in Levín’s (1997) typology. Our concluding remarks refer to a further research and political agenda triggered by the general framework developed throughout the article.
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 →
D. Flacher, H. Harari-Kermadec and Léonard Moulin in Antonio Caparrós Ruiz (eds.), Investigaciones de Economia de la Educacion, vol. 6 n°6, p. 495-502.
After a short criticism of the “self-funded education scheme” which is widely implemented in the world and often based on tuition fees, this article develops theoretical basis for a “contributory education scheme”. This model is characterised 1) by a universal access for students to grants allowing them to take charge of themselves during their higher education curriculum; and 2) by a funding regime relying in particular on the population that has benefited from grants, once studies are finished. The article first points out the limits of the self-funded education scheme. Then, it discusses the analogies and differences with pension systems implemented in countries like France. We derive theoretical motivations in favour of a contributory education scheme: The equity of access to higher education, the incentives for students and university to be efficient, as well as the contributory equity are discussed. The article proposes finally to assess, for France, the cost and the options concerning the transformation of the tax system that would be needed for funding such a reform. Beyond the individual income, variables like the degree obtained by the student are taken into account in our assessment. The conclusion draws research perspectives concerning the theoretical dimensions and the transition such a reform concretely implies.