© 2019

Enacting the University: Danish University Reform in an Ethnographic Perspective


Part of the Higher Education Dynamics book series (HEDY, volume 53)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Introduction and Approach

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
  3. Imagining and Enacting a Reformed University

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 53-53
    2. Susan Wright, Jakob Williams Ørberg
      Pages 87-126
  4. University Governance and Management

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 155-155
    2. Stephen Carney
      Pages 157-186
    3. Stephen Carney
      Pages 187-211
  5. Academics’ Strategic Space for Manoeuvre

  6. Enactment of Students

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 259-259
  7. Conclusion

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 305-305

About this book


This book examines the transformative power and the limitations of one of Europe’s most significant university reforms from an ethnographic and historical perspective. It incorporates voices positioned across university and policy-making hierarchies in its analysis of how Danish universities have been transformed. To do this, the book continually juxtaposes two meanings of ‘enactment’: a top-down view based on laws and institutional power, and a bottom-up view of multiple actors shaping their institution in day-to-day life and in actively contested changes.  By conceiving of the university as ‘enacted’ in both ways at once, the book explores how and why the university comes to be imagined and instantiated in new ways.

The book traces the arguments for reform through a two-decade long, dynamic struggle between international forums and national industrial, political and academic interests over the definition of the university. It discusses which ideas finally became dominant and how this happened. It looks at government reforms from 2003 onwards, and, by means of notable ‘telling moments’, explains how the governance and management of the university were transformed. It examines how academics found room to manoeuvre between contesting discourses that affect their identity and work. Finally, it shows how students engaged with new versions of historical debates about their participation in shaping their own education, their institution and society.


Anthropology of policy ethnography Educational leadership figures of the student organizational change student politics and protests International education studies Knowledge economy strategic management academic room for manoeuvre University management

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Danish School of EducationAarhus UniversityCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Roskilde UniversityRoskildeDenmark
  3. 3.Danish School of EducationAarhus UniversityCopenhagenDenmark
  4. 4.Danish School of EducationAarhus UniversityCopenhagenDenmark
  5. 5.Danish School of EducationAarhus UniversityCopenhagenDenmark

Bibliographic information

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