Tag Archives: marketization

Money for nothing, research grants for free

This really is not some value-neutral fascinating social phenomenon such as the currently  en vogue “academic acceleration“: it is a bad use of academic time! Sure, some of the literature discussing “acceleration” is good, but I have a feeling it dance s around the subject a bit too much. Thanks to Jan Blommaert for calling the spade a spade (and apologies for the distasteful crib of Dire Straits lyrics in the title):

After submitting, we heard that a total of 147 applications had been received by the EU. And that the EU will eventually grant 2 – two – projects. In a rough calculation, this means that the chance of success in this funding line is 1,3%; it also means that 98,7% of the applications – 145 of them, to be accurate – will be rejected. And here is the problem.

[M]any millions’ worth of (usually) taxpayers’ money will have been used – wasted – in this massive and mass grantwriting effort. Several hundreds of researchers will have been involved, each spending dozens if not hundreds of their salaried working hours on preparing the application, and hundreds of university administrators will have been involved as well, also spending salaried working hours on the applications. These millions of Euros have not been used in creative and innovative research – they weren’t spent on doing fieldwork, experiments or tests, nor on writing papers and holding presentations in workshops and symposiums. They were spent on – nothing.”

Jan Blommaert, “Rationalizing the unreasonable: there are no good academics in the EU”, 10 June 2015, https://alternative-democracy-research.org/2015/06/10/rationalizing-the-unreasonable-there-are-no-good-academics-in-the-eu/

(Image: Milena Kremakova ®2007)

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But hey, they just need to learn how to sell themselves!

I read this cheery post on the careers blog at my university this morning and it made my porridge taste sour. What better way to start your working week (well, start isn’t the right word since most academics I know do at least some, and sometimes most, of their work over the weekend): let’s all join hands engage in some gleeful unreflective apology of our pernicious labour market system. 

Sure, I get it. You live in a market place, you must sell yourself, stupid. In this context, some of the advice in this blogpost is useful. It makes sense. We all do it. We all do it, whether we are good at it, whether we hate or enjoy it. But under the cheery businessy tone of such publications lies the creepy reality of academic marketisation gone out of control.

Oh and by the way, when will I have time to do some research, find/create/acquire/share some knowledge? After my market pitch. In my copious spare time. Over the weekend. Hey there, I am for sale, brains, research ethics and all. Who is buying?


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Unsurprising findings: universities damaged by “student as consumer” ideology

Academics under pressure to bump up student grades, Guardian survey shows

“Many academics said recent reforms, which encourage universities to treat students as consumers and expand their intake, have damaged the quality of education offered to undergraduates. […]52% of academics said the emphasis placed on “the student experience agenda” had damaged the quality of education offered, while 40% said the removal of the cap on student numbers had also had a negative impact. Of those academics who said the rush to recruit extra students was lowering standards, many complained of cramped facilities, a relaxing of entrance criteria, and a reduction in the amount of time academics can spend with undergraduates.”

full findings here.

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What does “work” mean in the 21 Century? (grand title, small rambling post)

Fascinating (if somewhat scattered) post on the Cyborgology blog about hyperemployment, technology  and femininity. The link makes sense once you read it. Read it! (http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2013/11/29/femininity-as-technology/)

In a nutshell, it takes up the term “hyperemployment” (= we all work all the time and not just in the workplace) and argues that women have always had to work all the time but now thanks to new technologies and the increasingly precarious and competitive labour market  we all have to work all the time, attaching second and third and fourth shifts to our working lives. Think about checking your work emails on your Blackberry. Think also of self-grooming practices or housework (which is no longer restricted to women). So basically we are all hyperemployed, and the real price of this is time. Fascinating stuff and some great ideas in that article.

However, I have a major quibble with the way this argument relies on the idea of “traditional employment”. Don’t take me wrong, I’ve also fallen prey to this idea, especially when I studied the marketisation of seafaring jobs. But actually it’s important to realise that the”golden age” of masculinised and standardised “full employment” never quite existed, and that its partial existence is but a short blip in the history of labour. Historically, everyone has had to work to survive – apart from those very thin socio-economic elites who controlled the power and resources and didn’t have to work). So perhaps technologies have destroyed that temporary standardisation of labour and reverted humanity and the nature of labour to the usual state of things – but we now notice this and call it “employment” because we have begun to think in market terms about everything?


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