Centre for Higher Education and Equity Research (CHEER)

Seminar 2: What are the Disqualified Discourses in the Knowledge Society?

Date: Monday 27th April 2009, 10am - 4pm

This session explores who is the 'we' in discourses of the knowledge based economy and society? It interrogates what types of knowledge are being legitimated and produced in today's higher education and the extent to which this democratises or excludes.

Professor Kathleen Lynch

Professor of Equality Studies
UCD Equality Studies Centre, UCD School of Social Justice
University College Dublin, Dublin

Title: Carelessness: A Hidden Doxa of Higher Education

Abstract: This paper explores the implications of new public sector 'reforms' for the values underpinning higher education. Findings from a study of top-level appointments in higher education in Ireland suggest that there is a 'care' ceiling operating in the work place which is as powerful and embedded as an exclusionary device as the various discriminations that operate to exclude women for positions of authority (Lynch, Grummell, Devine and Lyons, 2006; Grummell, Devine and Lynch, 2009a and 2009b). The care ceiling is reinforced at the base with concrete floors and walls of gendered 'care-free' expectations as to who is the ideal senior manager. The research confirms Bailyn's (2003: 141) findings about MIT that 'the ideal worker continues to be seen as one with no interests or responsibilities outside of work'.

While 'restructuring' and new public service management discourses give the impression that they are gender and care neutral, and even meritocratic, the reality is otherwise in higher education (Acker, 2006; Blackmore and Sachs, 2007; Hearn 1999). The highly individualised entrepreneurialism that is at the heart of the new academy has allowed a particular 'care-less' form of competitive individualism to flourish (Slaughter and Leslie 2001). Within higher education, there are global opportunities for mobile transnational academics, but the expectations of performance that govern these posts, and set the gold standard for leadership in the academy, are those that only a care-less worker can fully satisfy (Benschop and Brouns, 2003). Given the gendered order of caring, senior appointments are likely to be available only to those who are 'care-less', and these are likely to be very particular types of men (disproportionately), and women.

The paper challenges the prevailing sociological claims however, that the careless character of higher education culture is entirely driven by new managerial values and norms. There is a need to locate the carelessness of education within a longer historical time frame. First, it has its origins in the classical Cartesian view of education, namely that scholarly work is separate from emotional thought and feeling; second, it is grounded in the separation of spheres between fact and value that is endemic to contemporary positivist norms that govern not only scientific and social scientific thought, but the entire organisation of higher education; third, it has roots in the equation of education with very particular forms of cognition divorced from feeling. One of the features that distinguish new from old managerialism however, is its moral status. The new leadership model that has developed is premised on an aggressive competitiveness and ruthlessness exemplified in the organisational culture that R.W. Connell has defined as a  'transnational business masculinity' marked by increasing egocentrism, very conditional loyalties (even to the corporation), and a declining sense of responsibility for others.  

Biography: Kathleen Lynch is the Professor of Equality Studies at University College Dublin where she also holds a Senior Lectureship in Education. She was appointed in 2007 as an advisor to the EU Directorate General on Education and Culture (DGEAC) as a member of the European Network of Experts in the Social Sciences on Education and Training  (NSSE). She has published widely in the field of education. Her books include Diversity in School (2005)  edited with Anne Lodge ; Equality: From Theory to Action , (2004) co-authored with J. Baker, S. Cantillon, S. and J. Walsh; Inside Classrooms: The Teaching and Learning of Mathematics in Social Context (2003) co-authored with M. Lyons, S. Close et al., Equality and Power in Schools (2002) also with Anne Lodge, and Equality in Education (1999) and The Hidden Curriculum (1989) both of which are sole authored. Her forthcoming book with John Baker and Maureen Lyons from the UCD Equality Studies Centre is focused on the subject of caring and equality. It is titled Affective Equality: Love, Care and Injustice? (2009 June) London : Palgrave Macmillan. She is currently writing a book with Dympna Devine and Bernie Grummell based on her research on Senior Appointments across the education sector.

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Linda Morrice
CHEER, University of Sussex, UK

Title: Recognising the Global in the Local: issues of difference, (mis)recognition and inequality in HE

Abstract: We are said to be living in the knowledge society; a society characterised by the increased economic and social importance of knowledge, where know-how and expertise have become a critical resource. We are also living in a society characterised by the dramatic increase in the movement of people around the globe, both labour migration and refugees. But what are the kinds of knowledge these global migrants bring with them, and how is it recognised and acknowledged in the local context? This paper considers the experiences of refugees who come to the UK with high levels of capital in the form of education, professional knowledge, skills and experience. It explores how we might begin to re-imagine a Higher Education that does not marginalise or occlude.

Biography: Linda Morrice is a Lecturer in Continuing Education at the University of Sussex. She teaches on a Masters programme in Lifelong Learning and a Foundation Degree in Community Development. Her research interests have focused around issues of diversity and equity in lifelong learning. She has worked with refugees and asylum seekers in the UK to explore issues of social exclusion, identity, social capital and citizenship. She has a particular interest in participative research and has trained and worked with community researchers. Her current research for her Education Doctorate explores migration as processes of learning and identity (re)formation. This is a longitudinal study utilizing life history and biographical approaches. Prior to coming to the HE sector, Linda worked in adult and community learning for twenty years.

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Professor Gerard Delanty
Professor of Sociology and Social & Political Thought
Director of the Centre of Social and Political Thought, University of Sussex, UK

Title: The Public Sphere, Democracy and the Idea of the University

Abstract: The paper addresses the question of the role of the University in a democracy. This entails rethinking the idea of the University, which has not historically been contextualised in respect to this ideal. Surprisingly, even critical discourses, including the major philosophical and sociological works on the idea of the University, have not engaged with the concept of democracy either. I begin by discussing the salient aspects of democratic theory relevant to knowledge cultures, emphasizing in particular the notion of the public sphere. In a second step, I discuss how the University as an institution can be situated within the context of political modernity, conceived of in terms of the public sphere tradition. Finally, I develop the link between a radicalized theory of democracy and the University around a theory of cosmopolitanism.

Biography: Gerard Delanty  is Professor of Sociology and Social & Political Thought, University of Sussex. In 2006 he was a visiting professor at Deakin University Melbourne and has previously held visiting professorships in Kyoto and Toronto. He has written on various issues in social and political theory, European identity and the cultural and historical sociology of modernity. He is editor of the European Journal of Social Theory and author of ten books including Modernity and Postmodernity: Knowledge, Power, the Self (Sage, 2000), Citizenship in the Global Age (Open University Press, 2000), Community (Routledge, 2003) and (with C. Rumford) Rethinking Europe: Social Theory and the Implications of Europeanization (Routledge, 2005) and most recently The Cosmopolitan Imagination (Cambridge University Press, 2009). Articles have appeared in the British Journal of Sociology, Comparative European Politics, Citizenship Studies, International Citizenship Studies, and International Sociology.

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Overall Discussion
At the end of the three sessions we conducted an overall discussion about the day's topics, papers, ideas, and where this discussion might lead in terms of future research.

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