Steal This University: The Rise of the Corporate University and the Academic Labor Movement
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Steal This University explores the paradox of academic labor. Universities do not exist to generate a profit from capital investment, yet contemporary universities are increasingly using corporations as their model for internal organization. While the media, politicians, business leaders and the general public all seem to share a remarkable consensus that higher education is indispensable to the future of nations and individuals alike, within academia bitter conflicts brew over the shape of tomorrow's universities. Contributors to the volume range from the star academic to the disgruntled adjunct and each bring a unique perspective to the discussion on the academy's over-reliance on adjuncts and teaching assistants, the debate over tenure and to the valiant efforts to organize unions and win rights.
life of the prestigious scholar that many of us envisioned as we began our doctoral programs,” Jill Carroll flatly declares, “is simply not available to most of us.” That’s not for lack of ability or devotion. “We know firsthand that the adjunct professors being hired today have excellent potential, because they have been our graduate students,” writes Joyce Appleby, former president of the American Historical Association. “We have participated in their development as scholars while helping to
And so I embarked on the noble profession that was quickly becoming neither. I had entered graduate school with the pretenses of becoming an intellectual, hopefully free from the snotty connotations that word often carries with it. It meant more than smoking cigarettes in cafes, talking about Foucault and film theory. For me, it meant living for ideas—debating the bigger questions of the day. It meant thinking about things that are too often forgotten about while struggling to make ends
and out faster and faster, labor activists are trying to create a “unionism emphasizing cross-firm structures and occupational identity.”3 This new direction—one that can truly grapple with increased contingency—is seen evocatively in the COCAL example discussed in section 3. Academic labor activists are pioneering some new ways of organizing, and they are showing that whitecollar employees—and those with advanced degrees at that—do not see unions as dinosaurs or things of the past. For these
they act as consumers of goods—is clearly connected to how they treat their own employees. As this final note makes clear, this is a book about the strange world of academia and how it has shaped the lives of those who work within it. It is a book by and about a movement trying to shape the future of this peculiar world. Recognizing the peculiarity of this world is crucial, but it can also become limiting. After all, we believe that the university holds an enormous promise—the promise of
socialist sentiments in favor of nonprofits.”14 Sperling’s rejection of the liberal arts and his decision to root out of his enterprise anything remotely resembling his glorious Berkeley days could None of Your Business 19 be a rebellion against traditional academe, but it also happens to be the very foundation of Phoenix’s massive growth. The institution’s relentless focus on employability makes Phoenix classes appealing to the corporations that subsidize their employees’ classes and