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Book cover: International Perspectives on Higher Education Research

International Perspectives on Higher Education Research

ISSN: 1479-3628
Series editor(s): Professor Malcolm Tight

Subject Area: Education

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Chapter 2 Intellectual Work and Knowledge Production

Document Information:
Title:Chapter 2 Intellectual Work and Knowledge Production
Author(s):Helen M. Gunter
Volume:7 Editor(s): Tanya Fitzgerald, Julie White, Helen M. Gunter ISBN: 978-1-78052-500-6 eISBN: 978-1-78052-501-3
Citation:Helen M. Gunter (2012), Chapter 2 Intellectual Work and Knowledge Production, in Tanya Fitzgerald, Julie White, Helen M. Gunter (ed.) Hard Labour? Academic Work and the Changing Landscape of Higher Education (International Perspectives on Higher Education Research, Volume 7), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.23-40
DOI:10.1108/S1479-3628(2012)0000007003 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article type:Chapter Item

The university as a site of public intellectuals and intellectual work is facing challenge. Historically this has happened and continues apace through the inter-relationship of a number of trends: first, the entry of disciplines into bureaucratic specialisation, where status is through a named school, disciplinary paradigms and networks, journals and chairs; second, through neoliberal business management and entrepreneurialism, with researchers focused on income streams, audits and knowledge transfer; third, the development of a range of centres of knowledge production through the media, social media, privately funded laboratories, think tanks, professional bodies and consultancies; and fourth, the prevalence of private interests and belief systems that often reject outright research findings and analysis, and such neo-conservatism questions the purposes of the university as a site of independent social and natural science research. So knowledge workers and their professional practice in higher education have come under scrutiny, and the need to examine the relationship between the state, public policy and knowledge became an imperative. Knowledge produced through raced, classed, gendered and westernised structures and cultures needed to be democratised, particularly since the ‘public’ in public intellectual was a fiction. However, while the privilege of white, male, middle class ‘public’ intellectuals needed to be challenged and ‘other’ ways of knowing given recognition, I would want to argue that intellectual work as well as elite ‘public’ intellectuals has been the target of reform. So the same privileged elite has retained their power to speak as rebranded ‘pundits’, ‘consultants’ and ‘experts’ through relocation into the market place regarding doing design and delivery work for governments and private interests. Claims to neutrality through serving the public interest, no matter which party is in government, or who funds the activity, means that this knowledge worker can retain their privileged position through a makeover of purposes and dispositions.

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