Case-Study I: Higher Education in Neoliberal Nation-States
We argue that neoliberal ideology has informed contemporary institutions of higher education in capitalist societies to such a great extent that our classical sense of education’s value and purpose has been negatively transformed and distorted into The Higher Commodification. Instead of scaffolding students’ capacities for engaged citizenry and autonomy, contemporary higher education encourages them to frame their academic pursuits in a wholly market-oriented, instrumental, self-interested way. Instead of supporting faculty members’ capacities for meaningful research, contemporary higher education trains them to view their research as a mere means to an end—keeping their job, getting promoted, or gaining professional prestige. Neoliberal values and norms thereby pervasively shape people’s habitual attitudes, behaviors, and shared expectations in ways that systematically distort and undermine authentic learning, research, and collaboration. Associated mental habits become so deeply entrenched that it becomes difficult to recognize the influence of this ideology or resist its destructive and deforming impact. Like most social institutions in neoliberal nation-states, higher education centrally involves commodification, mechanization, coercion, the incentivization of desire, and false consciousness. It therefore serves as a powerful example of collective sociopathy and of what Jan Slaby calls “mind invasion.”
KeywordsHigher education Capitalist societies Market Neoliberal values Commodification Mind invasion
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