Hartmann, E., Komljenovic, J.
The employability dispositif, or the re-articulation of the relationship between universities and their environment
(2020) Journal of Education Policy
This paper focuses on how universities are increasingly made responsible for the employment of their students. Drawing on Governmentality Studies, we suggest framing this pressure as an employability dispositif. We join critical studies which link the employability imperative to a neo-liberal transformation of the higher education landscape. However, we criticise them for not paying enough attention to how the dispositif is put into practice by different universities and countries. As a consequence, they overlook important differences in terms of its institutionalisation. This contribution presents an overview of the dispositif’s variegation, based t on the findings of a survey with responses from 84 European universities in 26 European countries, which makes our study the most comprehensive in the field to date. Using an abductive approach, we aim, in addtion, to find explanations for the variegation. We show that a high youth unemployment rate has little explanatory power for the strength of the employability dispostif, in contrast to tuition fees and the country typology that we use and further develop. The dispositif is most advanced in Liberal Market Economies, indicating that universities in these countries seem to be on the way to becoming labour market institutions in their own right. © 2020, © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Foucault; Graduate employability; labour market; social media; university; varieties of capitalism