Scholar Outsiders in the Neoliberal University: Transgressive Academic Labour in the Whitestream

Abstract

Over the past 15 years of tertiary sector reform, the nature of academic governance in New Zealand universities has radically changed. Globalization, neoliberal experimentation and managerialist practices have come to characterize a higher education system where the locus of authority is at an ever-widening distance from the majority of academics. This paper uses sociological analyses of organizational structure to explore how macro and micro-level interactions within the managerialist university shape ethnicized, classed and gendered institutional status systems. Drawing on interviews with 43 Māori and Pacific senior scholars in nine universities and Wānanga, we consider the role of scholar ‘outsiders’ from the point of view of minoritized/ethnicized academics and argue that while academic labour within the institutional margins can be profoundly alienating these sites are less readily accessed by institutional elites and therefore open up possibilities for organized scholarly resistance to the neoliberal status quo.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Abrutyn, S. (2016). Institutional spheres: The macro-structure and culture of social life. In S. Abrutyn (Ed.), Handbook of contemporary sociological theory (pp. 207–227). Switzerland: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Abrutyn, S., & Van Ness, J. (2015). The role of agency in sociocultural evolution: Institutional entrepreneurship as a force of structural and cultural change. Thesis Eleven. doi:10.1177/0725513615575935.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Ahmed, S. (2012). On being included: Racism and diversity in institutional life. Durham: Duke University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Amsler, M., & Shore, C. (2015). Responsibilisation and leadership in the neoliberal university: A New Zealand perspective. Discourse. doi:10.1080/01596306.2015.1104857.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Anderson, G. (2008). Mapping academic resistance in the managerial university. Organization, 15(2), 251–270.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Becher, T., & Trowler, P. R. (2001). Academic tribes and territories: Intellectual enquiry and the culture of disciplines (2nd ed.). Bury St Edmunds: The Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Bentley, T., McLeod, L. & Teo, S. (2014). The state of the tertiary education sector in New Zealand, 2013. Auckland, New Zealand: New Zealand Work Research Institute. Auckland University of Technology. Downloaded from: http://teu.ac.nz/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/TEU-Final-Report.pdf.

  8. Campbell, D. (2009). Ethnocentrism of disciplines and the fish-scale model of omniscience. In M. Sherif & C. W. Sherif (Eds.), Interdisciplinary relationships in the social sciences (pp. 328–348). London: Aldine Transaction.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Chatterjee, P., & Maira, S. (2014). The imperial university: Race, war, and the nation-state. In P. Chatterjee & S. Maira (Eds.), The imperial university: Academic repression and scholarly dissent (pp. 1–50). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Clarke, J. (2015). So many strategies so little time… Making universities modern. In S. B. Hyatt, B. W. Shear, & S. Wright (Eds.), Learning under neoliberalism: Ethnographies of governance in higher education (pp. 129–151). New York: Berghahn Books.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Collins, P. H. (1986). Learning from the outsider within: The sociological significance of Black feminist thought. Social Problems, 33(6), S14–S32.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Cribb, A., Gewirtz, S., & Horvath, A. (2016). Compliance and contestation in the neoliberal university: Reflecting on the identities of UK social scientists. In R. Normand & J. L. Derouet (Eds.), A European politics of education: Perspectives from sociology, policy studies and politics (pp. 155–178). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Crocket, A. (2009). Interpreting “partnership” as a core value: Some implications of the Treaty of Waitangi for the NZAC code of ethics. New Zealand Journal of Counselling, 29(2), 61–72.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Eldridge, J. D., & Jones, J. P., III. (1991). Warped space: A geography of distance decay. Professional Geographer, 43(4), 500–511.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Ewick, P., & Silbey, S. S. (1993). Conformity, contestation and resistance: An account of legal consciousness. New England Law Review, 26(3), 731–749.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Gerholm, T. (1990). On tacit knowledge in academia. European Journal of Education, 25(3), 263–271.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Goffman, E. (1961). Asylums: Essays on the social situation of mental patients and other inmates. New York: Doubleday Anchor.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Henderson, T. L., Hunter, A. G., & Hildreth, G. J. (2010). Outsiders within the academy: Strategies for resistance and mentoring African American women. Michigan Family Review, 14(1), 28–41.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Kidman, J., Chu, C., Fernandez, S. & Abella, I. (2015). Māori scholars and the university. Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga. Māori Centre of Research Excellence, Auckland, New Zealand: University of Auckland. Downloaded from: http://www.maramatanga.co.nz/sites/default/files/project-reports/Kidman%20Chu%20Fernandez%20Abella-%20Maori%20Scholars%20Final%20report%202015.pdf.

  20. Larner, W., & Heron, Le. (2005). Neo-liberalizating spaces and subjectivities: Reinventing New Zealand universities. Organisation, 12(6), 843–862.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Lawler, E. J., Thye, S. R., & Yoon, J. (2016). The problem of social order in nested group structures. In S. Abrutyn (Ed.), Handbook of contemporary sociological theory (pp. 149–166). Switzerland: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Leathwood, C., & Read, B. (2013). Research policy and academic performativity: Compliance, contestation and complicity. Studies in Higher Education, 38(8), 1162–1174.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Levy, D., & Scully, M. (2007). The institutional entrepreneur as modern prince: The strategic face of power in contested fields. Organization Studies, 28, 971–991.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Mendez, J. B. (2008). Globalizing scholar activism: Opportunities and dilemmas through a feminist lens. In C. R. Hale (Ed.), Engaging contradictions: Theory, politics and methods of activist scholarship (pp. 136–165). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Middleton, S., & McKinley, E. (2010). The gown and the korowai: Māori doctoral students and the spatial organisation of academic knowledge. Higher Education Research and Development, 29(3), 229–243.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Morris, J., Farrell, C., & Reed, M. (2016). The indeterminacy of ‘temporariness’: Control and power in neo-bureaucratic organizations and work in UK television. Human Relations, 69(12), 2274–2297.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Moss, D. M., & Snow, D. A. (2016). Theorizing social movements. In S. Abrutyn (Ed.), Handbook of contemporary sociological theory (pp. 547–569). Switzerland: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Mountz, A., Bonds, A., Mansfield, B., Lloyd, J., Hyndman, J., Walton-Roberts, M., et al. (2015). For slow scholarship: A feminist politics of resistance through collective action in the neoliberal university. ACME, 14(4), 12535–12539.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Nana, G., Stokes, F., & Lynn, A. (2010). Academic workforce planning: Towards 2020. Wellington: Report to Universities New Zealand Human Resources Committee Steering Group.

    Google Scholar 

  30. National Tertiary Education Union (Australia). (2011). I’m not a racist but…: Report on cultural respect, racial discrimination, lateral violence & related policy at Australia’s universities. Report to the National Indigenous Unit of the National Tertiary Education Union. Melbourne.

  31. Olssen, M., & Peters, M. (2005). Neoliberalism, higher education and knowledge economy: From the free market to knowledge capitalism. Journal of Education Policy, 20(3), 313–345.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Pilkington, A. (2013). The interacting dynamics of institutional racism in higher education. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 16(2), 225–245.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Potter, H. & Cooper, L. (2016). Project whitestreaming: A report on the generalising of Māori specialist staff positions in the tertiary education sector. Wellington, New Zealand: Tertiary Education Union, Te Hautū Kahurangi o Aotearoa. Downloaded from: http://teu.ac.nz/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/20160314-Project-Whitestreaming-Report-FINAL.pdf.

  34. Raaper, R., & Olssen, M. (2016). Mark Olssen on neoliberalisation of higher education and academic lives: An interview. Policy Futures in Education. doi:10.1177/1478210315610992.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Ritchie, J. (2014). Post-Te Whāriki early childhood care education policy and practice in “whitestream” early childhood care and education in Aotearoa. In J. R. Ritchie & M. Skerrett (Eds.), Early childhood education in Aotearoa (pp. 92–112). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Shore, C. (2010). Beyond the multiversity: Neoliberalism and the rise of the schizophrenic university. Social Anthropology, 18(1), 15–29.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Skinner, J. (2012). The interview: An ethnographic approach. London: Berg.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Smith, L. (1997). Decolonising intellectual identity: Maori/woman/academic. In M. Peters (Ed.), Cultural politics and the university (pp. 192–210). Palmerston North: Dunmore Press.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Smith, L. T. (2015). Choosing the margins: The role of research in indigenous struggles for social justice. In N. K. Denzin & M. D. Giardina (Eds.), Qualitative inquiry—Past, present, and future: A critical reader (pp. 349–371). CA: Left Coast Press Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Snow, D. A. (2004). Social movements as challenges to authority: Resistance to an emerging conceptual hegemony. Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, 25, 3–25.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Stahl, G. (2015). Performance anxiety: Audit culture and the neoliberal New Zealand university. Culture Unbound, 7, 618–626.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Sutherland, K., Wilson, M. & Williams, P. (2013). Success in academia? The experiences of early career academics in New Zealand universities. Report to Ako Aotearoa National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence. Wellington.

  43. Theodore, R., Tustin, K., Kiro, C., Gollop, M., Taumoepeau, M., Taylor, N., et al. (2015). Māori university graduates: Indigenous participation in higher education. Higher Education Research and Development. doi:10.1080/07294360.2015.1107883.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Thornton, P. H., Ocasio, W., & Loundsbury, M. (2012). The institutional logics perspective: A new approach to culture, structure and process. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Vostal, F. (2016). The pulse of modern academia. In F. Vostal (Ed.), Accelerating academia: The changing structure of academic time (pp. 1–10). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Walker, J. (2009). Time as the fourth dimension in the globalization of higher education. The Journal of Higher Education, 80(5), 483–509.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Zald, M. N., & Loundsbury, M. (2010). The wizards of Oz: Towards an institutional approach to elites, expertise and command posts. Organization Studies, 31(7), 963–996.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgement

This paper is based on a study funded by a grant from Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Joanna Kidman.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kidman, J., Chu, C. Scholar Outsiders in the Neoliberal University: Transgressive Academic Labour in the Whitestream. NZ J Educ Stud 52, 7–19 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40841-017-0079-y

Download citation

Keywords

  • Higher education
  • Institutional organization
  • Institutional racism
  • Māori academics
  • Neoliberalism
  • Whitestream universities