Emerging Economic Geographies of Higher Education: A complex negotiation of value (and values) in the face of market hegemony.
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Taking higher education (HE) in England as its case study, this PhD adapts and reposes Roger Lee’s thesis on the Ordinary Economy to help understand how neoliberal market values become negotiated, embedded and transformed in and through complex emerging economic geographies. In 2011, pursuing a somewhat neoliberal theme, the HE White Paper sought to further organize the sector through the application of certain market values and metrics, whereby a demand-led system would increase efficiency and competitiveness by making universities more directly accountable to their studentconsumers than ever before. Since the late 1970s, ascendant forms of neoliberalism have come under scrutiny with some political economy and governmentality scholars underscoring neoliberalization’s processual and variegated nature wherein geographies and extant political economic relations matter to its concrete manifestation. However, some studies have encountered difficulties in accounting for how top-down political programmes become “anchored into” the complexity of everyday life, and/or in presupposing that their desired “subject-effects” will be either automatically realized or successfully resisted (Barnett, 2005). Thus, by residualising “the social”, theories of hegemony and governmentality often fail to illuminate the complex interplay between abstract policy programmes and the complexity of the Ordinary Economy. To overcome such weaknesses, this PhD follows Lee’s assertion that economic geographies are always emerging and inherently relational entities in and through which value emerges from the practice and performance of socio-economic life. Thus, studying the economy means grappling with the multiple values, social relations and notions of value that constitute economic geographies. Adapting a framework to examine four universities in England, the PhD illuminates the transformative power of both political programmes and socio-economic relations as, in this case, market hegemony was (re)-produced in multiple and complex forms. Neoliberalization is thus shown to be a bottom-up as well as top-down process that is constructed in practice. For it is the practice of socio-spatial economic relations that determines what is and is not value.
AuthorsPani, Erica Margaret
- Theses