Tag Archives: academic labor

Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor

MARX, ENGELS AND THE CRITIQUE OF ACADEMIC LABOR

Special Issue of Workplace
Edited by
Karen Lynn Gregory & Joss Winn

Articles in Workplace have repeatedly called for increased collective organisation in opposition to a disturbing trajectory in the contemporary university… we suggest that there is one response to the transformation of the university that has yet to be adequately explored: A thoroughgoing and reflexive critique of academic labor. 

Table of Contents

  • Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor
    Karen Lynn Gregory, Joss Winn
  • Towards an Orthodox Marxian Reading of Subsumption(s) of Academic Labour under Capital
    Krystian Szadkowski
  • Re-engineering Higher Education: The Subsumption of Academic Labour and the Exploitation of Anxiety
    Richard Hall, Kate Bowles
  • Taxi Professors: Academic Labour in Chile, a Critical-Practical Response to the Politics of Worker Identity
    Elisabeth Simbürger, Mike Neary
  • Marxism and Open Access in the Humanities: Turning Academic Labor against Itself
    David Golumbia
  • Labour in the Academic Borderlands: Unveiling the Tyranny of Neoliberal Policies
    Antonia Darder, Tom G. Griffiths
  • Jobless Higher Ed: Revisited, An Interview with Stanley Aronowitz
    Stanley Aronowitz, Karen Lynn Gregory

Professors in Poverty

Via Brave New Films: PROFESSORS IN POVERTY
An average of 51% of faculty are adjunct or working on a part-time only basis. 31% of those adjuncts live near or below poverty levels and are forced to work multiple jobs just to make ends meet. Astonishingly, some make as little as $12,000 annually; meanwhile college presidents are making on average salary of over $400, 000. The corporate model is destroying the integrity of our academic institutions and has to stop. Help us fight for adjuncts and their right to a living wage by sharing this video.

Meet Dr. Wanda Evans-Brewer. She has been teaching for 20 years, has a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and a PhD in Education. She is also living in poverty.

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Arvind Gupta: Known knowns, known unknowns, unknown unknowns …

“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” Donald Rumsfeld

This past Friday the University of British Columbia Board of Governors announced that Arvind Gupta had resigned as president of the university. The announcement was shocking because Gupta had just completed the first year of his five-year term.

There very few knowns, a lot of unknowns, and perhaps even more speculations about Gupta’s “resignation.”

The announcement raises many questions as it came after an unscheduled Board of Governors meeting and Gupta was not quoted in the news release nor has he commented on his resignation. The past year has seen a wholesale shakeup of top administrators at UBC and now former UBC president Martha Piper has named as interim president (starting in September).

That giant sucking sound you heard the past few days is of speculation rushing in to fill to fill the vacuum in the UBC president’s office.

Is Gupta’s exit connected to the shake up of  high level executives in the university?

Charlie Smith speculates it might have something to do with the departure of Pierre Ouillet who was UBC’s Vice President Finance.

Smith has also offered that Gupta’s departure might be related to his inability to squeeze more money out of the provincial government or because transit referendum or because Christy Clark or because fundraising in general.

Jennifer Berdahl‘s suggestion that Gupta is out because he lost the “masculinity contest” among UBC’s administration seems to have a lot of popular support based on attention it’s getting in the twittersphere.

Berdahl is the Montalbano Professor of Leadership Studies: Gender and Diversity in the Sauder School of Business at UBC. She wrote on her blog:

I believe that part of this outcome is that Arvind Gupta lost the masculinity contest among the leadership at UBC, as most women and minorities do at institutions dominated by white men. President Gupta was the first brown man to be UBC president. He isn’t tall or physically imposing. He advocates for women and visible minorities in leadership – a stance that has been empirically demonstrated to hurt men at work.

Berhdahl describes her positive working experiences with Gupta, but doesn’t offer evidence to support a claim that the masculinity contest theory applies to him in this circumstance.

There’s no denying that higher education is rife with workplace harassment, bullying, and mobbing. (The journal Workplace: A Journal of Academic Labor recently devoted an entire issue to this topic.)

When work is a “masculinity contest,” says Berdahl, “leadership does not earnestly seek expert input, express self-doubt, or empower low-status voices.” I’ve got no argument with her on this point. Indeed, in my dozen years on the faculty at UBC, I’d say that there has been no leadership at the faculty or university level that has earnestly sought input from anyone (much less experts), expressed self-doubt, or empowered low-status voices.

The standard operating procedure at UBC is akin to that of the British Empire of old. The king or queen makes a decision and then the shit then flows downhill. There might be an occasional “walk about” to see how the courtiers, knights, or peasants might react to this or that, but UBC is a top-down organization, run like an empire, or at least a corporation.

As Justin McElroy points out, whatever it is it’s no ordinary resignation.

McElroy’s exchange with Neal Yonson, who is editor of UBC Insiders, raises some interesting questions and offers up some possible explanations, that while speculative, aren’t tabloid fodder, and focus on the relationship between the BoG of the president’s office.

They make some good, if self-evident, points:

  • Gupta and the BoG didn’t see eye to eye;
  • After an 18 month transition from Steven Toope to Gupta, UBC is now facing another leadership transition after just one year and that will have deleterious effects on a multiple fronts, both internally and externally;
  • Numerous current upper administration jobs are filled with people who are new or in interim roles;
  • BoG’s move to bring in known quantity Piper might steady the ship administratively, but Piper is not student-friendly, especially on the tuition front;
  • UBC capital projects are in a holding pattern.

McElroy and Yonson say that despite the lack of external dissent, there were internal  “hints” that Gupta’s honeymoon was over, but university presidents always have their detractors and I don’t think the lack of “charm offensive” on Gupta’s part was key to his failure as president.

What they might not know is that this spring and summer there were rumours on campus that Gupta was in serious trouble with the BoG. I’m not enough of an insider have any substantive knowledge of those rumours, but I heard a university administrator opine that the BoG certainly wanted David Farrar, who left the position of Provost and Vice President Academic in June, to stay close at hand. Farrar was the third Vice President to vacate office under Gupta.

There are still lots of unknowns and UBC would be greatly served if the BoG and the university administration acted in more open and transparent ways. (Don’t hold your breath because as Yonson points out this is a board that wants to keep the public ignorant by operating in secret.)

If blame must be laid, there’s no getting around the fact that the UBC Board of Governors made a mistake in hiring Gupta.

If Gupta resigned of his own accord, then the BoG erred in hiring someone with no traditional higher ed administrative experience and for whatever reason (barring extremely personal reasons) could not handle the job.

If the BoG forced Gupta out, then they erred by making a non-traditional hire and then not giving Gupta a sufficient amount of time or the support to bring his vision to fruition.

Related posts:
How not to run a university (Part 3): The art of misdirection [updated]
How not to run a university (Part 2): Intimidation, bullying & harassment at UBC
How not to run a university (Part 1): Secrecy at UBC

Reforming Academic Labor, Resisting Imposition, K12 and Higher Education (Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor, No. 25)

New Workplace Issue #25

Reforming Academic Labor, Resisting Imposition, K12 and Higher Education

Workplace and Critical Education are published by the Institute for Critical Education Studies. Please consider participating as author or reviewer. Thank you.

Academic Bullying and Mobbing (Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor, No. 24)

New Workplace Issue #24

Academic Bullying & Mobbing

Workplace and Critical Education are published by the Institute for Critical Education Studies. Please consider participating as author or reviewer. Thank you.

Workplace CFP: Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor

Call for Papers
Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor

Special Issue of Workplace:A Journal for Academic Labor
Guest Editors: Karen Gregory & Joss Winn

Articles in Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor have repeatedly called for increased collective organisation in opposition to a disturbing trajectory: individual autonomy is decreasing, contractual conditions are worsening, individual mental health issues are rising, and academic work is being intensified. Despite our theoretical advances and concerted practical efforts to resist these conditions, the gains of the 20th century labor movement are diminishing and the history of the university appears to be on a determinate course. To date, this course is often spoken of in the language of “crisis.”

While crisis may indeed point us toward the contemporary social experience of work and study within the university, we suggest that there is one response to the transformation of the university that has yet to be adequately explored: A thoroughgoing and reflexive critique of academic labor and its ensuing forms of value. By this, we mean a negative critique of academic labor and its role in the political economy of capitalism; one which focuses on understanding the basic character of ‘labor’ in capitalism as a historically specific social form. Beyond the framework of crisis, what productive, definite social relations are actively resituating the university and its labor within the demands, proliferations, and contradictions of capital?

We aim to produce a negative critique of academic labor that not only makes transparent these social relations, but repositions academic labor within a new conversation of possibility.

We are calling for papers that acknowledge the foundational work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels for labor theory and engage closely and critically with the critique of political economy. Marx regarded his discovery of the dual character of labor in capitalism (i.e. concrete and abstract) as one of his most important achievements and “the pivot on which a clear comprehension of political economy turns.” With this in mind, we seek contributions that employ Marx’s and Engels’ critical categories of labor, value, the commodity, capital, etc. in reflexive ways which illuminate the role and character of academic labor today and how its existing form might be, according to Marx, abolished, transcended and overcome (aufheben).

Contributions:

  1. A variety of forms and approaches, demonstrating a close engagement with Marx’s theory and method: Theoretical critiques, case studies, historical analyses, (auto-)ethnographies, essays, and narratives are all welcome. Contributors from all academic disciplines are encouraged.
  2. Any reasonable length will be considered. Where appropriate they should adopt a consistent style (e.g. Chicago, Harvard, MLA, APA).
  3. Will be Refereed.
  4. Contributions and questions should be sent to:

Joss Winn (jwinn@lincoln.ac.uk) and Karen Gregory (kgregory@ccny.cuny.edu)

Publication Timetable:

● Fully referenced ABSTRACTS by 1st February 2015
● Authors notified by 1st March 2015
● Deadline for full contributions: 1st September 2015
● Authors notified of initial reviews by 1st November 2015
● Revised papers due: 10th January 2016
● Publication date: March 2016.

Possible themes that contributions may address include, but are not limited to:

  • The Promise of Autonomy and The Nature of Academic “Time”
  • The Laboring “Academic” Body
  • Technology and Circuits of Value Production
  • Managerial Labor and Productions of Surplus Markets of Value: Debt, Data, and Student
  • Production
  • The Emotional Labor of Restructuring: Alt-Ac Careers and Contingent Labor
  • The Labor of Solidarity and the Future of Organization
  • Learning to Labor: Structures of Academic Authority and Reproduction
  • Teaching, Learning, and the Commodity-Form
  • The Business of Higher Education and Fictitious Capital
  • The Pedagogical Labor of Anti-Racism
  • Production and Consumption: The Academic Labor of Students
  • The Division of Labor In Higher Education
  • Hidden Abodes of Academic Production
  • The Formal and Real Subsumption of the University
  • Alienation, Abstraction and Labor Inside the University
  • Gender, Race, and Academic Wages
  • New Geographies of Academic Labor and Academic Markets
  • The University, the State and Money: Forms of the Capital Relation
  • New Critical Historical Approaches to the Study of Academic Labor

Issue Guest Editors:

Karen Gregory is lecturer in Sociology at the Center for Worker Education/Division of Interdisciplinary Studies at the City College of New York, where she heads the CCNY City Lab. She is an ethnographer and theory-building scholar whose research focuses on the entanglement of contemporary spirituality, labor precarity, and entrepreneurialism, with an emphasis on the role of the laboring body. Karen cofounded the CUNY Digital Labor Working Group and her work has been published in Women’s Studies Quarterly, Women and Performance, The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, and Contexts.

Joss Winn is a senior lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Lincoln, UK. His research extends broadly to a critique of the political economy of higher education. Currently, his writing and teaching is focused on the history and political economy of science and technology in higher education, its affordances for and impact on academic labor, and the way by which academics can control the means of knowledge production through co-operative and ultimately post-capitalist forms of work and democracy. His article, “Writing About Academic Labor,” is published in Workplace 25, 1-15.

Alberta’s 2002 Teacher Strike: The Political Economy of Labor Relations in Education

Education Policy Analysis Archives has just published its latest issue at
http://epaa.asu.edu/ojs/article/view/697

Estimados/as lectores/as
Archivos Analíticos de Políticas Educativas acaba de publicar su último
artículo en http://epaa.asu.edu/ojs/article/view/697

Prezados/as leitores/as
Arquivos Analíticos de Políticas Educativas acaba de publicar o último
artigo en http://epaa.asu.edu/ojs/article/view/697

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Alberta’s 2002 Teacher Strike: The Political Economy of Labor Relations
in Education

Bob Barnetson
Athabasca University Canada

Citation: Barnetson, B. (2010). Alberta’s 2002 teacher strike: The
political economy of labor relations in education. Education Policy Analysis
Archives, 18(3). Retrieved [date] from http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v18n3/.

Abstract
In 2002, approximately two thirds of school teachers in the Canadian
province of Alberta went on strike. Drawing on media, government and union
documents, this case study reveals some contours of the political economy of
labor relations in education that are normally hidden from view. Among these
features are that the state can react to worker resistance by legally
pressuring trade unions and justifying this action as in the public
interest. This justification seeks to divide the working class and pit
segments of it against each other. The state may also seek to limit
discussion and settlements to monetary matters to avoid constraining its
ability to manage the workplace or the educational system. This analysis
provides a basis for developing a broader theory of the political economy of
labor relations in education. It also provides trade unionists in education
with information useful in formulating a strike strategy. Keywords: teachers
unions; labor relations; Canada; regional government; politics of education.

Education Policy Analysis Archives is a refereed open-access journal
published by the Mary Lou Fulton Institute and Graduate School of Education
at Arizona State University

More information about becoming a reviewer or submitting manuscripts is
available at http://epaa.asu.edu/

New home, new outlook, new publishing system for Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor

The Editorial Team of Workplace is proud to announce the journal’s new home, new outlook, and new publishing system!

We encourage you to browse the Workplace open journal system, submit a manuscript, or volunteer to review http://m1.cust.educ.ubc.ca/journal/index.php/workplace/index. We also welcome proposals for Special Issues; if you have an idea or have assembled a group of scholars writing on higher education workplace activism and issues of academic labor, send us a proposal.

Current preprints include:

John Welsh‘s “Theses on College and University Administration” and “The Status Degradation Ceremony.” As a whole, both feature articles challenge scholars to rethink the administration of higher education and how we frame research into this process http://m1.cust.educ.ubc.ca/journal/index.php/workplace/issue/current.

“The Education Agenda is a War Agenda: Connecting Reason to Power and Power to Resistance” by Rich Gibson & E. Wayne Ross

Reviews by Richard Brosio and Prentice Chandler

Thank you and please forward this invitation to colleagues and networks.

Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross, Co-Editors

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor

Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy
University of British Columbia
http://m1.cust.educ.ubc.ca/journal/index.php/workplace/index