Brew and Lucas (2009) Academic Research and Researchers
Discussions around ‘The End of Knowledge’ and ‘Death of the University’ have been around for some time. And what the coalition government have achieved in their first few months was a process started by Thatcher, furthered by Blair and consummated by Cameron. It is hard to imagine what shape and form the University will take post-Coalition.
There is so much that needs to be re-written. What it means to be an academic and who can even think of pursuing this ambition – has changed. There is in this policy moment, even in the middle England Tory suburban press, the Daily Mail, a clear sense that if weighing up the cost of a University Education vs. a house to live in – many will question the affordability of a degree. If this small minded ‘vote Tory even if it’s a donkey’ rag is questioning this policy in this way; if they are appointing a Lib Dem to ‘sell’ the policy – then I think this might well still become the Poll Tax moment. It is one to watch.
In chapter 4, Brew and Lucas (2010) explore the tensions and contradictions of a middle manager in HE. A role that may be described as ‘agent of control’, ‘corporate bureaucrat’ or ‘transmitter of core strategic values’.
I note here there are struggles to define what ‘research’ and ‘research active’ means. The discussion is caught up with ideas of culture – a clash between academic and management cultures – and of course power. There is a clash between meanings and value, what counts as ‘symbolic capital’. The social world is not a benign social space in which where common values are shared.
The chapter explore research cultures – in UK and Australia based universities. It draws on 4 aspects of research management: research management, research nurturing, research indicators and research priorities. It makes extensive use of a template derived by Tierney (2008). A framework for organisational cultures – to help analyse research cultures; the constituent parts include: mission, environment, leadership, strategy, information and socialisation. A nuanced understanding of these requires a clear power dimension. Here power is understand not as exertion, the capacity to enforce one will against and above another will, but power in its constitutive sense, the sense not of what it prohibits but what it produces: the construction of selves in a context that enables particular selves to be negotiated.
This form of power applies itself to immediate everyday life categories of the individual, marks him [sic] by his own individuality, attaches him to his own identity, imposes a law of truth […] it is a form of power that makes individual subjects: subject to someone else by control and dependence […] that subjugates and makes subject to.’ Foucault, 1994 p331
How do departments constitute the research subject?