Indebted servitude: the work of ‘the calling’ in the new feudal professions

Amsler, Sarah (2012) Indebted servitude: the work of ‘the calling’ in the new feudal professions. In: 'The University, the Scholar and the Student’ seminar series on Thinking the Present with Max Weber, British Sociological Association, Max Weber Study Group, December 2012, University of Salford.

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Indebted servitude – the work of ‘the calling’ in the new feudal professions
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Abstract

This paper will argue that, far from supporting an educational ‘calling’ in structural terms, the academic life (like many professions) is both a form of wage labour and, in certain cases, part of a neo-feudal economy in which growing numbers of working people remain permanently indebted to landlords and financial institutions, and increasingly accountable to both markets and the state. At the same time, however, many of those who work as academics in universities continue to cultivate and defend traditional principles of scholarly activity and aspire to pursue what remains for them an intellectual, social or moral vocation. Drawing on recent work about student debt and insights from the New Faculty Majority (a US organisation of adjunct academics), and on the frameworks of economic culture outlined in Weber and Boltanski and Chiapello, the paper will ask whether the cultural image of ‘the academy’ as an educational and intellectual institution in fact legitimises market logics and managerial domination within universities, and ask whether there is any chance for it to operate as a critical force against these conditions within the universities themselves.

Keywords:the university, academic labour, academic capitalism, Max Weber
Subjects:L Social studies > L370 Social Theory
X Education > X342 Academic studies in Higher Education
L Social studies > L171 Capitalism
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Education
ID Code:12012
Deposited On:07 Oct 2013 09:56

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