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Chapter 4 explores how a new language – managerialism – enabled the transformation of power and authority in universities. The processes of managerialisation are explored through the changing regime of English Higher Education, drawing on vignettes from practice and other case study materials. At stake is how the internal architecture of power is remade to enable the ‘right of managers to manage’, while the language of managerialism simultaneously enables the translation of emergent external political objectives and programmes into the ‘business’ of the corporate and competitive university. The chapter takes up translation in a very specific sense: the capacity of a specific way of thinking and speaking within what appears to be a common language (English) to transform institutions, rework social relationships and remake forms of power and authority into new assemblages.

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Second unsupervised inteMy diary of participating in the Citizens Advice training programme is littered with these experiences. Notes on Debt Relief Order procedure are followed by my own worries about forgotten credit cards or the Council Tax Bill – debt in the abstract intertwining with debt as personal anxiety. We are used to thinking of debt as a question of morality (I am frequently reminded by friends that both Swedish and German hold the same word for ‘debt’ as for ‘guilt’), or of time: debt as the purchasing of today’s consumption with tomorrow’s labour. It is unusual to think of debt as a legal question. Yet it is through debt that many people will become enmeshed within the reaches of law, whether being forced to engage with the power of a contract or to question the nature of ownership. What defines different debts, as opposed to debt generally, are the legal framings that shape, among other things, how, when and by whom they can be enforced and collected.

I will explore here what debt advice tells us about how ‘law’ and ‘life’ are intertwined in the practice of advice. This intertwining, I argue, has important implications for the ongoing role of advice in the context of an assumption, presented in a Ministry of Justice paper that preceded the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO), that volunteer advisers merely provide the public with ‘practical’ information (MoJ, 2010). I will focus on the question raised by this assumption: is there a difference between the advice they give and formal ‘legal advice’, and does this difference matter?

From our interviews and diaries of the Citizens Advice training programme, trainees noted that, compared to the perils of negotiating the labyrinthine intricacies of the UK benefits system, debt advice appears reasonably straightforward.

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Neoliberalism, in its many variants, has involved a sustained attack on ideas, institutions and formations of the ‘social’, including those of traditional social welfare systems and more recent movements towards social reform. This disposition is pungently described by Wendy Brown (2018: 16) as ‘the neoliberal attack on the social, which includes an attack on equality, social belonging and mutual social obligation, and also an attack on the replacement of traditional morality and traditional hierarchies (including racial hierarchies) by social justice and social reform’.

But does this mean that neoliberalism is simply ‘anti-social’? As Brown indicates, there are certainly arguments for treating it as such, not least the impacts on health, wellbeing and longevity that have followed in the train of neoliberalism’s inequality-generating policies and practices in many places. The turn to ‘austerity’ that was the dominant response to the global financial crisis intensified such consequences (see, for example, Stuckler and Basu, 2013). Nevertheless, this chapter will argue that the view of neoliberalism as ‘anti-social’ risks reifying a particular conception of the social and misses critical ways in which neoliberalism not merely contests but has sought to reconstruct older conceptions and institutions of the social. Instead, we might take a more conjunctural view of the processes of neoliberalization, highlighting three questions in particular:

What conceptions of ‘the social’ has neoliberalism promoted (rather than attacked)?

What has happened to older conceptions of ‘the social’ (expressed in social welfare and wider notions of public-ness)?

What are the ‘emergent’ possibilities through which people lay claim to the idea and sensibility of ‘the social’?

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This chapter explores the European governance both as the management of difference and the expression of coherence in the form of an imagined unity. It notes that the borders and boundaries of this unity are the site of political contestation around our understanding of the people who are the subjects of governance strategies and policy interventions.

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Thinking Together in Turbulent Times
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In this engaging and original book, John Clarke is in conversation with 12 leading scholars about the dynamics of thinking critically in the social sciences. The conversations range across many fields and explore the problems and possibilities of doing critical intellectual work in ways that are responsive to changing conditions.

By emphasising the many voices in play, in conversation with as well as against others, Clarke challenges the individualising myth of the heroic intellectual. He underlines the value of thinking critically, collaboratively and dialogically.

The book also provides access to a sound archive of the original conversations.

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The conversation begins from a collaborative puzzle, exploring our different journeys towards collaborative working. It then considers how we see concepts being made to work in practice, before turning to issues of conservative dominance in contemporary politics. The chapter ends by discussing the emerging global crisis of work and livelihood.

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The conversation starts by exploring how we discuss and reflect on our differences, before turning to what it means to take up positions provisionally as a way of thinking things through talking through differences. We then consider some of the pains and pleasures of working collaboratively. Finally, we discuss the contemporary challenges of looking for the “popular”.

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The chapter opens with a conversation about the demands and difficulties of theory, before turning to a reflection on the pleasures of seductions of discovering theory. We then reflect on the spaces between theory and politics before turning to issues of intellectual and political ambivalence.

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The conversation begins with an exploration about what it means to think with multiple resources (in theoretical and disciplinary terms). It then turns to the importance of seeing political subjects “behaving badly”. It then explores the productive problems of defining NGOs, before ending with troubling thoughts.

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The chapter opens with reflections on some of the paradoxes of popular politics. It moves to a discussion of our relative political trajectories. It ends by considering the relationship between certainty and ambivalence in political terms.

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