Transforming A Centralised System Of Higher Education: Reform And Academic Resistance In Italy

  • Roberto Moscati
Part of the Higher Education Dynamics book series (HEDY, volume 24)

It is generally acknowledged that transformations affecting higher education systems have an unavoidable impact on the identity of academics themselves. In this respect, it seems worthwhile recalling some of the most recent definitions of identity, including those offered by Bauman and Giddens. Most of them consider the idea of a stable and coherent identity as an illusion coming from a narration of the self, elaborated by the individual (Hall 1992). According to this kind of interpretation, the problem of identity in the post-modern era lies in avoiding any definition and in keeping open all kinds of options (Bauman 1996). It can thus be maintained that an academic's identity has been put under a severe pressure given the transformation of the traditional reference points on which it has been built (Henkel 2000, 2005). As is well known, these points of reference have been traditionally identified with the two communities represented by the scientific area and the academic institution to which the member belongs.

The identity of people choosing an academic career in all systems of higher education has been built on these two kinds of membership. According to most scholars, including Burton Clark, membership of an academic discipline has always prevailed over that of the institution, thus creating different figures of a university professor as well as different worlds identified not only by epistemological specificity but also by the membership of a scientific ‘tribe’ (to quote Tony Becher). This means that each member of the academia has a very particular interpretation of his/her scientific role as well as of academic reality and even of the entire society he/she lives in (Becher 1989; Clark 1983, 1987a, b).


High Education System Academic Career Academic World High Education Policy Academic Profession 
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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

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  • Roberto Moscati

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