Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Disenchanted Professionals: The Politics of Faculty Governance in the Neoliberal Academy

  • Timothy Kaufman-Osborn

Abstract

The “corporatization” of the academy is often cited as a cause of the “de-professionalization” of the professoriate, and that in turn is cited as a cause of the faculty’s current disempowerment. The specifically modern conception of professionalism presupposed by these arguments occludes the deep implication of the academy in the generation and legitimation of specific configurations of power. This essay begins, accordingly, by elaborating this early conception of professionalism and showing how it informs twentieth century arguments on behalf of tenure, academic freedom, and the participation of faculty in institutional governance. The explicitly political reading of professionalism I offer as an alternative better explains how the academic workforce in recent decades has been thoroughly reconfigured in accordance with neoliberal imperatives. The downside of this reading, however, is that it deprives us of the justification for tenure, academic freedom, and shared governance that rested on an apolitical representation of the professoriate. I close, therefore, by asking what we stand to lose if we relinquish this ideal, but I then ask what costs we are likely to incur if we cling to a notion that compromises our ability to grasp the faculty’s current situation.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Abbott, Andrew. 1988. The System of Professions: An Essay on the Division of Expert Labor. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
American Association of University Professors. 2015. “Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure.” Policy Documents and Reports, 11th ed. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Background Materials . 2013. UW-System Governance Reform Summer Workgroup. Wisconsin State Assembly. Available at https://docs.google.com/a/whitman.edu/file/d/0Bxrg_FyIL7f1XzRDUDV2aG1WNnM/edit, accessed June 9, 2016.
Barrow, Clyde. 1990. Universities and the Capitalist State: Corporate Liberalism and the Reconstruction of Higher Education, 1894–1928. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.
Beck, Molly. 2016. “Assessing the impact of Act 10 on Wisconsin, 5 years later,” Wisconsin State Journal, February 11. Available at http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/assessing-the-impact-of-act-on-wisconsin-years-later/collection_66ea3487-a88a-5c0a-aa13-87ceae934104.html, accessed June 9, 2016.
Benjamin, Ernst. 2015. “How Did We Get Here?” Academe 101(1). Available at https://www.aaup.org/article/how-did-we-get-here#.V1m7EigrKUk, accessed on June 9, 2015.
Bérubé, Michael and Ruth, Jennifer. 2015. The Humanities, Higher Education, & Academic Freedom. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Brown, Wendy. 2011. “The End of Educated Democracy.” Representations 116: 119.
Brown, Wendy. 2015. Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution. Brooklyn, NY: Zone Books.
Carstensen, Vernon. 1956. “The Origin and Development of the Wisconsin Idea.” Wisconsin Magazine of History 39(3): 181–88.
Curtis, John W. and Thorton, Saranna. 2014. “Losing Focus: The Annual Report of the Economic Status of the Profession, 2013–14.” Academe 100(2): 417. Available at https://www.aaup.org/sites/default/files/files/2014%20salary%20report/zreport_0.pdf, accessed June 9, 2016.
Finkelstein, Martin J., Conley, Valerie M., and Schuster, Jack. 2016. “Taking the Measure of Faculty Diversity.” New York: TIAA-CREF Institute. Available at https://www.tiaainstitute.org/public/pdf/taking_the_measure_of_faculty_diversity.pdf, accessed June 9, 2016.
Freidson, Eliot. 2001. Professionalism: The Third Logic. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Geiger, Roger. 2015. The History of American Higher Education. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Gerber, Larry. 2014. The Rise and Decline of Faculty Governance: Professionalization and the Modern American University. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Hoeveler, David J. 1976. “The University and the Social Gospel: The Intellectual Origins of the ‘Wisconsin Idea.’” Wisconsin Magazine of History 59(4): 282–98.
Kaufman-Osborn, Timothy. 2016. “Faculty Members Play a Role in the Erosion of Shared Governance.” Inside Higher Ed, May 26. Available at https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2016/05/26/faculty-members-play-role-erosion-shared-governance-essay, accessed June 9, 2016.
Kezar, Adrianna. 2014. “Changing Faculty Workforce Models.” New York: TIAA-CREF Institute. Available at https://www.tiaainstitute.org/public/pdf/changing-faculty-workforce-models.pdf, accessed June 9, 2016.
Kezar, Adrianna and Maxey, Daniel. 2013. “The Changing Academic Workforce.” Trusteeship Magazine 21(3). Available at http://agb.org/trusteeship/2013/5/changing-academic-workforce, accessed June 9, 2016.
Kimball, Bruce. 1992. The “True Professional Ideal” in America. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
Knox, Alan and Curry, Joe. 1995. “The Wisconsin Idea for the 21st Century.” Wisconsin Blue Book, 1995–1996. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau.
Larson, Magali Sarfatti. 2013. The Rise of Professionalism: Monopolies of Competence and Sheltered Markets. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Press.
Lovejoy, Arthur. 1919. “Annual Message of the President.” Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors 5(November-December): 1040.
Potts, Crystal, Clark, Lauren, Coenen, Scott, Moore, Heather, Phillips, Justin, and Posca, Dan. 2013. “UW Shared Governance Reform.” Presented at the August 21, 2013 Wisconsin State Assembly Republican Caucus meeting.
Schmidt, Peter. 2014. “Union Efforts on Behalf of Adjuncts Meet Resistance within Faculties’ Ranks.” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 9. Available at http://chronicle.com/article/Union-Efforts-on-Behalf-of/145833/, accessed June 9, 2016.
Seligman, Edwin. 1915. “Preliminary Report of the Joint Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure.” American Political Science Review 9(1): 374381.
Shakespeare, William. 1602. All’s Well that Ends Well. Available at http://www.opensourceshakespeare.org/views/plays/play_view.php?WorkID=allswell&Act=4&Scene=3&Scope=scene, accessed June 9, 2016.
Slaughter, Sheila and Rhoades, Gary. 2004. Academic Capitalism and the New Economy. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University.
Thelin, John. 2011. A History of American Higher Education, 2d ed. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce. 2014. The Just-in-Time Professor: A Staff Report Summarizing eForum Responses on the Working Conditions of Contingent Faculty in Higher Education. Available at http://democrats-edworkforce.house.gov/imo/media/doc/1.24.14-AdjunctEforumReport.pdf, accessed on June 9, 2016.
Veysey, Laurence. 1965. The Emergence of the American University. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Weisbuch, Robert. 2016. “The Liberal Arts at War.” Inside Higher Ed, May 15. Available at https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2016/05/05/values-liberal-arts-and-enlightenment-are-under-attack-essay, accessed on June 9, 2016.
Wolin, Sheldon. 1981. “Higher Education and the Politics of Knowledge.” Democracy 1(2): 3852.

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed