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Restructuring Universities

K. Saradamoni

Edited by Marilee Reimer
SUMACH Press, Toronto, 2004, pp. 312, price not stated.


The editor of the volume under review tells us at the outset that the essays contained therein draw on the unique experiences of women who, as a group, are seriously underrepresented in the upper echelons of power and privilege in the university setting. Being socially located differently than the male academic, these women have a strong incentive to question the increasing concentration of power and privilege in male hands. They also draw on alternative methodological approaches that are more expressive of women’s experiences. The fourteen essays in the volume are in four sections, Women in Corporate U; Women’s Careers in the Gendered System; Employment and Educational Equity in the Corporate University and The Student Experience of Consumerism : High Technology and Life in Residence.   Reimer gives examples of writings of women who have identified globalization as one of the main factors behind the corporate restructuring of universities. They conceptualize globalization as a process that combines ‘a market ideology with a corresponding material set of practices drawn from the world of business’. This new commercial outlook is based on the notion of entrepreneuralism—students are encouraged to see themselves as consumers; faculty are to treat teaching and research as part of the university’s cost-recovery programme; and administration is to operate as a form of managerial control.   One of the essayists links the changing forms of accountability in university financing to the concomitant rise in tuition and the rise in students’ view that their education is a commodity that needs to provide them with greater access to the job market. In the name of business prosperity, new regulations in the university are leading to diminished professional autonomy and professional judgement for academics. One of the authors in the first section Dorothy E. Smith highlights the disappearance of professional autonomy in health, social work and education—professional realms into which many women have entered. Smith describes how American business corporations have created a number of right-wing think tanks and institutes that train right wing journalists to organize an ideological campaign against liberal higher education and affirmative action and as a means to establish the hegemony of neo-liberalism.   The editor of the volume has contributed an essay too and she titles it ‘Will Women Studies Programmes Survive the Corporate University’? She argues that with a strong emphasis on attracting commercially oriented grants and programming, both university administrators and politicians contribute to a ...

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