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Affective academic capitalism refers to processes of structuring a patriarchal (post) liberal ethos that appeals to academics as the Western European civilised norm. In this way, academics are forced to endorse competitiveness, abide by the patriarchal-authoritarian rules of this game and succumb to self-censorship. Taking the Greek case as a point of reference, I elaborate on the ways in which this affective-eugenic patriarchal discourse is structured and unfolds. The chapter draws on a broader philosophical project, particularly on the eugenic-affective biomedical discourse of the interwar years. At the same time, I examine how the eugenic patriarchal concept of failure as a ‘mental health’ problem of the individual’s intelligence and lifestyle persists to this day. Finally, I look into ways of addressing affect in different contexts, such as the brain-drain effect, concluding that as long as a eugenic-patriarchal binarism exists in the form of normal (masculinity)–abnormal (feminity) and the idea about personal failure defines reality, academics are called to perform within and reproduce a patriarchal (post)liberal ethos.
Chapter 9 aims to explore the affective dynamics of contemporary academic capitalism, interpreting the neoliberal, corporate academia as the icon of an affective economy in which affect takes the place of money. The theoretical framework is delineated through the concept of affective economy, and is grounded in the literature on affective capitalism. It avoids a definition of ‘what affect is’, following instead the traces of ‘what affect does’. One particular academic practice of management through affect is illustrated, with the focus on how the academic body is trained for performing what Kristiina Brunila (2016) calls ‘academicity’ – the dynamics in between control, self-managing and passion. Two main concepts are discussed. One is ‘academic fetishism’ and the second is ‘academic affective athleticism’. The chapter concludes with a discussion of old and new ‘forms of resistance’ as a necessary ingredient for practices of management through affect: to be affected and to affect cannot be separated.
Drawing on affect theory and research on academic capitalism, this book examines the contemporary crisis of universities. Moving through 11 international and comparative case studies, it explores diverse features of contemporary academic life, from the coloniality of academic capitalism to performance management and the experience of being performance-managed.
Affect has emerged as a major analytical lens of social research. However, it is rarely applied to universities and their marketisation. Offering a unique exploration of the contemporary role of affect in academic labour and the organisation of scholarship, this book considers modes of subjectivation, professional and personal relationships and organisational structures and their affective charges.
Chapter 9 is available Open Access via OAPEN under CC-BY-NC-ND licence.
In Chapter 2 Lew Zipin and Marie Brennan analyse affective disturbances currently experienced by many academics as embedded in university field-based crises of capital accumulation, ultimately linked to a wider crisis of capitalism. They take on the task of clarifying how the key concepts of this book – capitalism, academia and affect – are connected. Working from Marx, they focus on labour as a productive commodity that capitalism exploits to accumulate profit. They emphasise two logics of capital. One is an acute tension, embodied in people’s labours, between use-valued and exchange-valued purposes for their work. The other is a structural necessity, in capital-accumulating institutions, that there will be relationally unequal reward for labours across different workforce positions. To explain how these logics of capital apply in university fields, they take up Bourdieu’s multiplication of ‘the forms of capital’ beyond the economic, and Worsham’s theorisation of affect in ‘late-capitalist’ workplaces. They outline how universities compete for prestige – as symbolic capital – in ways that capitalise on the cultural capital inhering in academics’ dispositions to teach and research.
Using critical perspectives, Chapter 3 centres some of the structural challenges related to global economic relations, subjectivities and transformative action in the Caribbean. In so doing, the interrogation of radical thought within the region situates some of the historical contentions related to intellectual thought, freedom, leadership and social change in the Caribbean, with the university at the centre of this dialectal conundrum. As the chapter shows, these are further complicated within the contemporary era by the increasing infiltration of neoliberal agendas into the framing of academic work and institutional cultures. The chapter ends, however, with a treatment and recognition of the potential for critical pedagogy as subversive practice and change agendas. Where the contradictions and tensions of Caribbean societies raise doubt as to the promise of change, the chapter closes with some consideration of the unfinished interrogations and applications of critical pedagogy, (post)coloniality, structuralism and praxis central to resistance and contestations of these processes.
Academic leaders and leadership are constituted by economically driven and affective discourses that are under constant resignification. Nowadays academic leadership is profoundly shaped by how neoliberalism works to convince it to be both more governable and more able to serve marketisation. Becoming a recognisable leader in academia represents a form of ‘cruel optimism’, and means learning how to present oneself the ‘right way’. In this chapter, the persistent individualistic approach in academic leadership discourse is critically unpacked in order to refuse and break the hold of what academic leaders and leadership in the university tend to be. In addition, possibilities for shifting the focus from an individualist orientation towards more undone, messy, contradictory and multiple discourses are explored.
Using notions of the gift economy and friendship, Chapter 7 investigates personal and professional relationships in the academic workplace. Based on interviews it focuses on how boundaries between friendships and more formalised relationships are negotiated among university-employed scholars. Through the theoretical lens of relational work the unspoken norms of a gift economy in the academic workplace is analysed. The analysis shows how informal social exchange may collide with formal work roles and pave the way for interpretive misalignments, relational mismatches and potential conflicts. Through the notion of ‘invisible gifts’ it is discussed how the unspoken character of reciprocal support and favour exchanges may increase the vulnerability to exploitation, particularly when such gift giving is not reciprocated. It is argued that this outcome may be particularly precarious if a marketised logic of exchange undermines traditions and structures of collegial exchange that has been the culture of many universities.
Chapter 10 investigates the transformations in academic working rhythms and how they contribute to reshaping the academic working subject. In recent decades, doctrines and techniques of performance management have transformed the university sector into a ‘quantified academia’, a regime largely driven by numerical indicators. The chapter examines the affective dynamics of quantification through a particular subset of scholarly work, namely, academic reading. For many academics, reading still seems to sit at the core of academic proficiency and professional identity. However, from the perspective of quantifiable outcomes, reading remains mostly hidden and ‘beyond measure’. In the analysis, a set of affective rhythms is proposed as analytical clues for understanding how academic reading feels today. The three rhythms discussed are insufficiency, jumpiness and hastiness. Each expresses a distinctive affective and temporal perspective to reading as a pivotal aspect of academic work.
In Chapter 1, we pursue two objectives. First, we set out the book’s overall subject matter and sketch out the content of its chapters. Second, in so doing, we map the terrain of debates about academic capitalism, and explain how we intend to add to these debates in original, analytically productive and practically relevant ways. Academic capitalism has, under various labels, been debated for decades. However, little attention has so far been devoted to the ways in which it organises the affective dynamics of academic labour. In response, we delineate three thematic and conceptual pathways for the exploration of affective capitalism in academia; structures, relationships and performances and explain how the various chapters in this book follow these pathways.
This book offers an analysis and critical interrogation of the contemporary crisis of higher education. On the one hand, this crisis manifests itself in the partial unmaking of the institutional form of the university that emerged from European medieval centres of scholarship, their globalisation through Western imperialism, and the temporary success of the Humboldtian notion of the university as a discrete institutional space dedicated to knowledge and differentiated from the economic sphere. On the other hand, crisis manifests itself as transformation, engendering new institutional models. It is driven by the marketisation and commodification of education systems, both at the national level and on a transnational scale, the advent of new information technologies, the concomitant transformation of forms and practices of knowledge, and the consequent remaking of labour practices within academic spaces.
Here, we analyse these issues from the perspective of academic capitalism, that is, the insertion of universities into the capitalist marketplace and resulting market-like behaviours on the part of universities, academics, students and academic administrators. Drawing on theories of affective capitalism, we ask, first, how the transformation of universities’ structures and labour practices under academic capitalism is implicated in transformations of modes of subjectivation, interaction and embodied forms of affective experience on the part of scholars, students and administrators. Second, we consider how the critical interrogation of the affective dynamics of academic capitalism might be bound up with the emergence of new forms of critical pedagogy and alternative modes of contestation of the neoliberal status quo in higher education.