Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory

pp 1-5

Date: Latest Version

Universities and the Politics of Autonomy


Political debates concerning the university are numerous and usually rancorous. They also unfortunately tend to be played out along fairly predictable binaries – autonomy or control, freedom or responsibility, and neoliberalism or professionalism. Much of the academic literature tends toward one side of this debate, painting a rather dystopian image of the present and future of university life as plagued by some combination of marketization, privatization, commodification, and even reification. In this version of the events, the space for autonomy, whether academic or institutional, appears to be narrowing in the face of a disappearing state apparatus and the rise of a hype-consumerist culture.

Not surprisingly, then, many academics have responded negatively to current changes in university administration. In particular, they have set their sights on the growth of accountability systems in universities, a trend that is noticeable internationally and identified by some as a “ ...

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