Resisting the Norming of the Neoliberal Academic Subject: Building Resistance Across Faculty Ranks

  • Joseph M. SchwartzEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Critical University Studies book series (PCU)


This essay locates the primary cause of the proliferation of contingent faculty in the university to nearly forty years of relentless federal and state cuts in the funding of public higher education. Public and private universities increasingly view themselves as corporate entities that maximise student tuition and corporate and philanthropic revenue while minimising labour costs. The article analyses why most tenured faculty naturalise this deterioration of the academic labour market as inevitable and why they fail to resist this phenomenon in a concerted manner. Many tenured faculty now act as a labour aristocracy who place the greatest value on the portable capital of their research records. While in the short run this self-interested calculation may seem rational, in the long run it threatens the very existence of the tenured jobs that faculty hope their graduate students attain.


Neoliberalism Higher education Inequality Contingent labour Solidarity Tenure 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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