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Neo-liberalisation, Universities and the Values of Bureaucracy

Nash, Kate. 2019. Neo-liberalisation, Universities and the Values of Bureaucracy. The Sociological Review, 67(1), pp. 178-193. ISSN 0038-0261 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Neo-liberalisation of universities is advancing through a bureaucratic revolution. ‘Marketising bureaucracy’ advances neo-liberalisation through audit and rankings in the name of ensuring value for money and consumer choice. However, bureaucracy in universities is not total, just as neo-liberalisation is a project which advances on an uneven terrain of values. This article argues that to exercise academic autonomy, to continue to value education, we must learn to distinguish between ‘marketising’ and ‘socialising’ bureaucracy. Socialising bureaucracy encodes the ethos of impartiality in practices that support academic judgement – both against marketisation and against abuses of collegiality.

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academic autonomy, audit culture, collegiality, education, street level bureaucrats

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1 December 2017Accepted
1 February 2018Published Online
1 January 2019Published

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Date Deposited:

04 Dec 2017 15:56

Last Modified:

18 Dec 2019 16:48

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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