IEF Seminar: academic alienation

Our first seminar of the 2017/18 season will take place on Tuesday 31st October from 13:00-14:00 in Hugh Aston, room 2.32.

Richard Hall will be leading the following session:

On the alienation of academic labour and the possibilities for mass intellectuality


As one response to the secular crisis of capitalism, higher education is being proletarianised. Its academics and students, encumbered by precarious employment, overwhelming debt, and new levels of performance management, are shorn of any autonomy. Increasingly the labour of those academics and students is subsumed and re-engineered for value production, and is prey to the vicissitudes of the twin processes of financialisation and marketization. At the core of understanding the impact of these processes and their relationships to higher education is the alienated labour of the academic, as it defines the sociability of the University. This paper examines the role of alienated labour in academic work, and relates this to feelings of hopelessness (or world-weariness/Weltschmerz) and academic ill-being, in order to ask what might be done differently. The argument centres on the role of mass intellectuality, or socially-useful knowledge and knowing, as a potential moment for overcoming alienated labour.