The University of the Common: Beyond the Contradictions of Higher Education Subsumed under Capital

Part of the Palgrave Critical University Studies book series (PCU)


Most of the contemporary critical narratives on the crisis of the university have one prevalent feature. They all remain within the conceptual horizon delineated by the liberal philosophy and political economy with their modern binary opposition of the public and the private. Corporatization, commodification, privatization, marketization, and the expansion of academic capitalism within the walls of the university are therefore most often contrasted with the desired strengthening of the public character of the HE institution or its re-publicization. Yet, at the same time, most of the higher education researchers observe that public universities affected by the reforms tailored according to the paradigm of “New Public Management” are increasingly becoming hybrids, and the boundaries between the public and the private are getting completely blurred. Instead of remaining within this theoretical dead end, this chapter takes another route and introduces the common as a concept and as a perspective in higher education research and sees this hybridization as a framework for the organization and management of relations between higher education and capital, corresponding to the needs of the latter’s valorization and accumulation. Four main contradictions of the contemporary higher education subsumed under capital are analyzed and explored here. The chapter does so with the use of general Marxian and Autonomist Marxist theoretical frameworks developed by authors like Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri, and Gigi Roggero, which have been applied recently to critical higher education research. The contradictions are divided into two main categories: the apparent contradictions (the public vs. the private, academic oligarchy vs. capital) and the real contradictions (corrupted form of the common vs. the common, the common vs. capital). They are discussed respectively with reference to contemporary higher education reality in crisis. The final part of the chapter discusses the alternative, that is the already existing preconditions for establishing a post-capitalist university regulated according to the logic of the common, which is an alternative way of regulation of social relations of production, distribution, exchange and consumption and a different form of wealth which focuses on social needs rather than maximization of profits.


High Education Academic Community High Education System High Education Sector High Education Research 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Public Policy StudiesAdam Mickiewicz UniversityPoznańPoland

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