Since the broadly neoliberal reforms of the 1980s, debates about the future of higher education have been a contest over the rightful mission of universities. From the corporatisation of public research in the USA’s Bayh-Dole Act (1980), to the reputation markets produced through the UK’s RAE/REF, and the quasi-markets produced through Australia’s demand-driven Unified National System of higher education, economistic language has been central to the pronouncements of both advocates and critics of these reforms. Formalised economics has long been recognised as the unifying language of politics, with behavioural economists checking the grammar of Homo economicus.
By contrast, the study of institutional culture in higher education has been much slower to develop as a unified or even comparative practice. The sociology of academia has long been associated with the names of Max Weber, Robert Merton, Edward Shils, then Pierre Bourdieu, Mary Henkel, Tony Becher and Paul Trowler. However, these dominant approaches are in need of revisions to account for the resurgence of what some are calling the ‘culture wars’ in late modern societies.
In Australia, the proposed Ramsay Centre of Western Civilisation course at the University of Sydney (which failed to gain traction at ANU), the revelation of former Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s decision to veto 11 ARC grant applications, and ongoing outcries over ‘freedom of speech’ on campuses have resonated with events in the USA, UK and Europe. The resurgence of public interest in the cultural effects of higher education highlights the need to understand the cultures of higher education – that is, a sociology of academia.
Toward this end, cultural sociologist Dr Nick Osbaldiston and I have edited a collection of essays, entitled The Social Structures of Global Academia (Routledge, 2019). This volume presents studies from social scientists and academia scholars from across the Pacific and Atlantic (see the end of this post for a contents list). The chief aim of this volume is to encourage scholars from both early- and later-career positions and from across the globe to account for commonalities and splinters in intellectual cultures. This book outlines the intellectual history of academia studies, while also introducing contemporary research on the themes of academic ethics, the affective cultures of scholarship, the ongoing transformation of culture by funding and metrics, and how we might theorise agency and control through this lens.
This volume will be of interest to scholars who are curious as how to approach the study of the cultures of intellectuals in academia and how these cultures are related to organisational structures and broader social life. Please feel free to contact Fabian Cannizzo for more information (firstname.lastname@example.org or @fabiancann).
Dr Fabian Cannizzo
The Social Structures of Global Academia – Table of Contents
- An Introduction to the Social Structures of Global Academia
Fabian Cannizzo and Nick Osbaldiston
Part I: Academic Ethics
- The Public Good of Higher Education
- Beyond the Academic Ethic
- Academic Service: Attachment, Belief and Hope
Nick Osbaldiston, Fabian Cannizzo and Christian Mauri
Part II: Affective Cultures
- Affective Infrastructures of Global Academia
Mona Mannevuo and Elina Valovirta
- Academic Craftwork: On Authenticity and Value in Academia
- Happy in Academia: The Perspective of the Academic Elite
Part III: Funding and Metrics
- Early Career Academic and Evaluative Metrics: Ambivalence, Resistance and Strategies
Gaby Haddow and Björn Hammarfelt
- The Rise of Project Funding and its Effects on the Social Structure of Academia
Thomas Franssen and Sarah de Rijcke
- Racing for What? Anticipation and Acceleration in the Work and Career Practices of Academic Life Science Postdocs
Part IV: Agency and Control
- Formulating the Academic Precariat
- Living and Working in the Contemporary University
Sarah Rachael Davies
- Fields of Struggle: University Work and Global Change