Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Olssen, M.
Neoliberal competition in higher education today: research, accountability and impact
(2016) British Journal of Sociology of Education, 37 (1), pp. 129-148.

DOI: 10.1080/01425692.2015.1100530

Abstract
Drawing on Foucault’s elaboration of neoliberalism as a positive form of state power, the ascendancy of neoliberalism in higher education in Britain is examined in terms of the displacement of public good models of governance, and their replacement with individualised incentives and performance targets, heralding new and more stringent conceptions of accountability and monitoring across the higher education sector. After surveying the defeat of the public good models, the article seeks to better understand the deployment of neoliberal strategies of accountability and then assess the role that these changes entail for the university sector in general. Impact assessment, I claim, represents a new, more sinister phase of neoliberal control. In the concluding section it is suggested that such accountability models are not incompatible with the idea of the public good and, as a consequence, a meaningful notion of accountability can be accepted and yet prized apart from its neoliberal rationale. © 2015 Taylor & Francis.

Author Keywords
accountability; impact assessment; neoliberalism; public good; Research Assessment Exercise; Research Excellence Framework

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