Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Still More Friday Morning Graeber

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Hierarchy, exchange, communism, and Foucault in the modern university.

Internally to the universities, pseudo-market accounting mechanisms are widely applied to departments (or larger units) now conceived of as cost-centres. Many of these units are permanently in debt, debts that they have no realistic prospect of ever discharging. Since they are in debt, they are in no position to argue with or resist the demands of senior management presented as requirement of market rationality: exchange begets hierarchy via debt again. Creditor departments (often the STEM subjects) regard themselves as (a) virtuous and (b) hard-done-by, as they too are being overworked, but think that this is largely to subsidize the lazy humanities and social sciences. With virtuous creditors set against sinful debtors (“Germans” versus “Greeks”) no basis exists for cross-institutional grassroots co-operation, for democracy or, indeed, communism. Which suits the managers nicely. They, in turn, as the essential mediators with the “real world” are much in demand, or so they claim, and deserve to be rewarded according to “market principles”.

Written by gerrycanavan

March 9, 2012 at 9:41 am

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