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Presentation on theme: "GOVERNING RESEARCH: THE DEPREDATIONS OF NEOLIBERAL EDUCATION BELMAS DRIGS June 2014 Stephen J Ball Institute of Education University of London."— Presentation transcript:

1 GOVERNING RESEARCH: THE DEPREDATIONS OF NEOLIBERAL EDUCATION BELMAS DRIGS June 2014 Stephen J Ball Institute of Education University of London

2 Autobiography/Foucault According to Rajchman (1985:36), Foucault based much of his work on his experience of ‘something cracked, dully jarring or disfunctioning in things I saw in the institutions in which I dealt with my relations with others.’ Each of my works is a part of my own biography. For one or other reason I had occasion to feel and live those things’ ‘Truth, power, self: an interview’ (p. 11).

3 Becoming a neoliberal academic and neoliberal researcher I am interested in the complex relations among truth, governing, economy and subjectivity in the contemporary university. That is, both relations ‘out there’ as we, we neoliberal academics, contribute to government and to productivity, and relations ‘in here’, as the forms and modalities of our academic work change and concomitantly we are re-made as neoliberal subjects doing neoliberal research.

4 Thinking neoliberalism Lazarrato (2009) suggests, neoliberalism rests upon five states of being, which inter-relate and inter-depend: individualization, inequality, insecurity, depoliticisation and financialisation.

5 The how of truth I am taking up Foucault’s concern not with what is true, but, as with his other concerns, the how of truth and ‘the system of truth and falsity’ itself (Foucault 2013). That is, how some things come to count as true. Bearing in mind, as he says, that nothing is true that is not the product of power. The university is quintessentially a site of truth (and its contestation?) I am concerned with the ways in which ‘we are constrained or condemned to confess or to discover the truth’ (p.93) 1977 Michel Foucault.

6 Truths told 1. Truths which we tell about ourselves. 2. Truths told about us 3. Truths we tell about others – research and the management of the population.

7 1/2 Truths told I want to refer ato some of the techniques and genres – infinitesimal mechanisms - (CVs, annual reviews, ranking and ratings) through which truths about us are produced as ‘we circulate between its threads’ (Foucault 1977). {And later some of the ways in which we respond to and contribute to the ‘demand for truth’ through our research activities}.

8 “ Living with the H-Index” Roger Burrows (2012) have an individual h-index of X publish in journals with an average ‘impact factor’ of Y have an undergraduate teaching load below the institutional norm have a PhD supervision load that is about average have an annual grant income in the top quartile for the social sciences work within an academic agglomeration with a 2008 RAE result that places it within the ‘top 5’ nationally receive module student evaluation scores in the top quartile of a distribution work within a school with ‘poor’ NSS results, placing it in the bottom quartile for the subject nationally teach a subject where only Z per cent of graduates are in ‘graduate’ employment 6 months after they graduate, earning an average of just £18,500 work within a higher education institute that is ranked in the ‘top 10’ nationally in various commercially driven ‘league tables’, and within the ‘top 80’ globally, according to others.

9 The h-index is an index to quantify an individual’s scientific research output. J.E. Hirsch - The h-index is an index that attempts to measure both the scientific productivity and the apparent scientific impact of a scientist. The index is based on the set of the researcher's most cited papers and the number of citations that they have received in other people's publications (Wikipedia) A scientist has index h if h of [his/her] Np papers have at least h citations each, and the other (Np − h) papers have at most h citations each.The h-index is an index that attempts to measure both the scientific productivity and the apparent scientific impact of a scientist. The index is based on the set of the researcher's most cited papers and the number of citations that they have received in other people's publications (Wikipedia) A scientist has index h if h of [his/her] Np papers have at least h citations each, and the other (Np − h) papers have at most h citations each.

10 Being measured

11 Being best

12 Maximizing the self Exercises in inflation and perfection and ‘impact’*. We are incited, hailed, to recognise ourselves in their terms. That is to say, ‘a regime of truth offers the terms that make self- recognition possible’ (Butler 2005). *the description of these in the REF as ‘narratives’ is interesting.

13 Fabricating ourselves The CV is a form of ‘data double’ (Haggerty and Ericson, 2000) a form of abstracted knowledge which a person makes about themselves – drawing on available resources – and that adheres to a body and travels with the person, a ‘meta self’, a narrative of our excellence and productivity both expansive and reductive ‘the multiplication of the individual, the constitution of an additional self’ (Poster 1990: 97). Making ourselves auditable, inflating ourselves, making us more and less than we are, we might be.

14 Data-doubles “while such doubles ostensibly refer back to particular individuals, they transcend a purely representational idiom. Rather than being accurate or inaccurate portrayals of real individuals, they are a form of pragmatics: differentiated according to how useful they are in allowing institutions to make discriminations among populations” (p. 614).

15 Grids of recognition Numbers come to represent us as performance and become part of the way in which we recognise and reflect on and manage ourselves and they make it necessary for us to do certain things and think certain things in order to ‘improve’ our performance.

16 The surveillant assemblage (Haggery and Ericson 2000). Or what Higgins (p. 7) refers to as ‘overlapping and competing regulatory regimes, and (which) supports a vast global army of surveillance and conformance, neo-professionals…’.

17 The affects of neoliberalism Something has changed in the [British] academy. Many academics are exhausted, stressed, overloaded, suffering from insomnia, feeling anxious, hurt, guilt, and out-of- placeness ‟. One can observe it all around: a deep, affective, somatic crisis threatens to overwhelm us […] We know this; yet somehow we feel unable to reassert ourselves […]. “In our brave new world, it seems that a single final criterion of value is recognized: a quantitative, economic criterion. All else is no more than a means. And there is a single method for ensuring that this criterion is satisfied: quantified control” (Burrows 2012: 355-56; citing Lock and Martins n.d.).ii

18 Tales from the field: On the (not so) secret life of performance indicators Tales from the field: On the (not so) secret life of performance indicators March 11, 2014 — Sarah de Rijcke * Guest blog post by Alex Rushforth Alex Rushforth “For instance, a performance indicator like the journal impact factor was routinely mobilized informally in researchers’ decision-making as an ad hoc standard against which to evaluate the likely uses of information and resources, and in deciding whether time and resources should be spent pursuing them”.

19 3. Grey science “It is a question of what governs statements, and the way in which they govern each other so as to constitute a set of propositions which are scientifically acceptable, and hence capable of being verified or falsified by scientific procedures. In short, there is a problem of the régime, the politics of the scientific statement”. (Foucault p. 112).

20 Neoliberal research? “We have not yet … fully assimilated the profound consequences of the neoliberal turn for the basic project of education” (p. 99) “the wider effect of neoliberalism on the knowledge base: an increasing technicization of knowledge and knowledge production” (p. 108) [Connell, 2013 #2561].

21 Truth as a system of exclusion Luke and Hogan (2006 p. 170) have argued that “current debates over what counts as evidence in state policy formation are indeed debates over what counts as educational research” [Luke, 2006 #2563]. “As they note, currently there are attempts around the globe to wind back gains in critical theory and methodologies as applied to education research and to tame educational research in the direction of state policy requirements and problem- solving epistemologies and ontologies” (Lingard p. 122)

22 New experts/research as grey science ‘expert knowledges give rise to much of what we “say” and “see” or the objects that we take to exist in the world and how we talk about them’ (Walter, 2008, p. 540).Walter, 2008, p. 540 In analyses of democracy, a focus on numbers is instructive, for it helps us turn our eyes from the grand texts of philosophy to the mundane practices of pedagogy, of counting, of information and polling, and to the mundane knowledges of “grey sciences” that support them.

23 “Infopolitical practices” (Koopman 2014) ‘ Population is a concept that can be elaborated only through statistical, therefore informational techniques’ (p. 102) ‘we find it difficult to even think of life outside of the constraints of our contemporary problematics of information’ (p. 106)

24 ‘what works’ New truths: new enlightenment expressed in “a discourse that suppresses references to the effective strategic considerations (that is, power, control and self-interest) and instead enshrines references to progress, efficiency, best practice, science, expertise, professionalism, coordination and the Common Good” (Higgins p. 10-11)

25 Data Work ‘the collection/production, management, analysis, interpretation and of maintaining the flows of data are now ‘part of everyday life in modern "learning"/"knowing" organisations’ (Kelly & Downey, 2011: 416).

26 Governing by numbers ‘Power never ceases its interrogation, its inquisition, its registration of truth: it institutionalises, professionalises and rewards its pursuit’ (Foucault 1980). We might see all of this manifest in particular in the current relations between research and policy – articulated, for example, as ‘what works’ - but also in the grandeur and force and effectivity of such things as PISA league tables, school inspections, world ranking systems of universities, and in the proliferation of comparison websites – Rate my Professor, Rate my Teacher, Rate my Doctor etc. Truth in this sense is diffused and consumed, and ‘is produced and transmitted under the control, dominant if not exclusive, of a few great political and economic apparatuses’ ( 1980 p. 131- 32) – we might name OECD, OfSTED, McKinsey, Microsoft and Pearson (refs Lingard and Sellar, (Grek and Ozga 2010), (Ozga 2008) etc.).

27 The rationality project Policy analysts – caught in “the rationality project” would like to think that their concepts are above politics, but this is not possible. Instead, policy analysis is “itself a creature of politics; it is strategically crafted argument, designed to create ambiguities and paradoxes and problems and resolve them in a particular direction” (D.Stone (1997) Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making, New York, Norton.)

28 A research economy?


30 Effective Education The Institute for Effective Education at the University of York is running an ESRC seminar series looking at the challenges of conducting education evaluations in real-world settings. The series is considering how to tackle the problems of conducting quantitative evaluations of educational interventions. It is also looking at how to ensure that research results influence policy and practice. The third seminar will be held on 12 June 2014, 9.30am to 3pm, at the Department for Education in London. There are just a few places left, so if you would be interested in coming please book now. please book now. The presenters are Tim Leunig, chief analyst and chief scientific adviser at the Department for Education and a senior ministerial policy adviser to the Secretary of State; Ben Styles (Research Director) and Sarah Maughan (Head of Research) at NFER; and Sarah Blower (Research Associate) and Pam Hanley (Research Fellow) at the IEE.

31 ESEA Title 1 (NCLB) Requires that schools select programmes that are ‘evidence-based’: using research that “involves application of rigorous, systematic and objective procedures to obtain reliable and valid knowledge … and employs systematic, empirical methods that draw on observation or experiment; involves rigorous data analyses that are adequate to test the stated hypotheses … using experimental or quasi experimental designs…. Etc”

32 Knowledge intermediaries

33 depoliticisation “issues of standards and accountability, are typically presented by politicians and policymakers as matters of technical efficiency rather than normative choices. As a consequence, their political nature, including the deep implication of these discourses with issues of socio- political power, is effectively backgrounded” [Clarke, 2012 #2565] p. 298) “the process of de-politicisation of policy-making, the erasure of ideology, and the legitimization of common sense” [Pykett, 2007 #2566] p. 307

34 Subjugation of the political “education as a public responsibility and site of democratic and ethical practice is replaced by education as a production process, a site of technical practice and a private commodity governed by a means/end logic – summed up, again, in that supremely techno-managerial question – ‘what works?’” [Fielding, 2011 #2568] pp. 23- 24)

35 Financialisation of research

36 Macfarlane ‘sponsorism’ Sponsorism is when someone’s research is designed to fit the agenda of funding bodies. Less than 20 years ago, the higher education scholar Sinclair Goodlad identified sponsorism as one of the heresies of academic life. But what was once a vice now looks like a modern-day virtue. Researchers follow the funding rather than pursuing their own independent, curiosity-driven interests. They are increasingly cast as consultants, not independent critics or thinkers. Even our engagement with the media is as a service provider. Institutions emphasise the career-shaping importance of grant-getting, encouraging strategic behaviour among academics to chase the cash.

37 Bourdieu – studied misrecognition Misrecognition has been defined as “The process of forgetting that social agents are caught up and produced by. When we feel comfortable within our roles within the social world they seem like second nature and we forget how we have been produced as particular kinds of people” ([Webb, 2002 #2575], xiv).

38 A research economy Each of these transactions “is monitored and recorded, producing a surplus of information” (pp. 15-16). Or of ‘truth’ – this is of course now a triple surplus – 1. we earn income directly or indirectly for our university, 2. we improve our ‘outputs’ and impacts in ways that contribute to our evolving ‘meta-self’ our data-double 3. we contribute to the efficiencies of business and government in ‘making’ or saving money or driving up performance or quality.

39 Fractions of capital The individual, the institution, our social relations become modeled on, microcosms of, the business, organized upon ‘the individual’s function, as a molecular fraction of capital’ (Lazarotto 2009 p. 121). See ures/im-an-academic-and-i-want-to-be- proud-of-it/421337.article

40 Emaciated research Marlene Morrison argues that “education research is duplicitous in this misrecognition, where the work of a key minority has become an ‘investment in plasticity’ (Ball, 2001, p.217). Many EA research members (with notable exceptions) move with relative ease between the acceptance of ‘the modern day virtue’ of ‘sponsorism’ (Macfarlane, 2012) (when empirical research is designed to fit the agenda of others, mainly funding bodies keen to promote leadership capacity building) and critical policy narratives that run in parallel. Both are frequently published within the same research community, sometimes by the same community members. Such parallelism, seen in the separation of critical policy narratives from empirical research, frequently functions in ways that effect minimal disturbance to either. In effect, critical leadership policy analysis may provide a kind of ‘comfort blanket’ for ‘beleaguered academics’ needing to survive in the increasingly ‘slippery world’ (Ball, 1995) of ‘leaderism’ (O’Reilly and Reed, 2010) and/or as a largely self-referential sub-field that mostly ‘speaks to itself’ (Gunter, 2012, p.5.)”.

41 Angar Allen: Under the economic yoke of advanced liberalism, today’s university is distinguished not by its greyness and economic subjugation, but by a gaudy proliferation of colour. It has become the rampant breeding ground of jobbing academics in search of the next ‘big’ idea. Despite the ‘bottom line’ mentality that besets it – where institutional coffers must be serviced before all else – economic restrictions are swiftly transformed into entrepreneurial opportunities, available only to those bold enough to reach out and grasp them. The perverse greed of this grasping hand (which, in many cases, is already in receipt of significant funds) is rarely remarked. praise-of-economically-illiterate-academic praise-of-economically-illiterate-academic

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