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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 4 Academic Work and Performance

Document Information:
Title:Chapter 4 Academic Work and Performance
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 4 Academic Work and Performance, 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.65-85
DOI:10.1108/S1479-3628(2012)0000007005 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article type:Chapter Item

Reading current accounts of higher education demonstrates the flux and damage of rapid neoliberal changes to the type and conduct of academic work. Opening the Times Higher Education magazine on the 28 April 2011 shows articles about cuts in staffing and undergraduate provision in England, concerns about the quality of for-profit higher education in the USA; the call for French universities to play the high fees international student game; and demands for the further modernisation of higher education so that there is more direct relevance to the workplace. In England the Browne et al. (2010) report is seen as re-locating previously publicly funded university provision firmly into the market place. Hence, Collini (2010, p. 25) argues that “what is at stake is whether universities in the future are to be thought of as having a public cultural role partly sustained by public support, or whether we move further towards re-defining them in terms of purely economic calculation of value and a wholly individualistic conception of ‘consumer satisfaction’”. In this chapter I intend examining what this means in regard to the nature of academic work: what it is that academic's do and why, and the impact that changes in the purposes of higher education are having on identity and professional practice. I do this by focusing on analysis from the Knowledge Production in Educational Leadership (KPEL) Project (2006–2007) funded by the ESRC (RES-000-23-1192), where I investigated the professional practice of knowledge producers in Schools of Education in UK universities during the period of New Labour governments (1997–2010). Through using Rose's (1996, p. 129) analysis of Foucault's concerns with ‘our relation to ourselves’ as ‘a genealogy of subjectification’ I examine the way researchers think about purposes, and generated rationales and narratives about their location in higher education.

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