Now, matters are such that German universities, especially the small universities, are engaged in a most ridiculous competition for enrollments. The landlords of rooming houses in university cities celebrate the advent of the thousandth student by a festival, and they would love to celebrate Number Two Thousand by a torchlight procession. The interest in fees – and one should openly admit it – is affected by appointments in the neighboring fields that ‘draw crowds.’ And quite apart from this, the number of students enrolled is a test of qualification, which may be grasped in terms of numbers, whereas the qualification for scholarship is imponderable and, precisely with audacious innovators, often debatable – that is only natural. Almost everybody thus is affected by the suggestion of the immeasurable blessing and value of large enrollments. To say of a docent that he is a poor teacher is usually to pronounce an academic sentence of death, even if he is the foremost scholar in the world. And the question whether he is a good or a poor teacher is answered by the enrollments with which the students condescendingly honor him.

It is a fact that whether or not the students flock to a teacher is determined in large measure, larger than one would believe possible, by purely external things: temperament and even the inflection of his voice. After rather extensive experience and sober reflection, I have a deep distrust of courses that draw crowds, however unavoidable they may be. Democracy should be used only where it is in place. Scientific training, as we are held to practice it in accordance with the tradition of German universities, is the affair of an intellectual aristocracy, and we should not hide this from ourselves. To be sure, it is true that to present scientific problems in such a manner that an untutored but receptive mind can understand them and – what for us is alone decisive – can come to think about them independently is perhaps the most difficult pedagogical task of all. But whether this task is or is not realized is not decided by enrollment figures.

Weber, in 1918.

In M. Weber, H. Gerth, & C. W. Mills (Eds.), From Max Weber. New York: Oxford University Press: 133-134.

Posted: February 3, 2017 in Readings, Research, Uncategorized

Dismissing Academic Surplus: How Discursive Support for the Neoliberal Self Silences New Faculty.

Academic Labor, the Aesthetics of Management, and the Promise of Autonomous Work.

Academic Labor: Who Cares?


Image  —  Posted: December 13, 2016 in Uncategorized
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Posted: October 19, 2016 in Brains, Media

Lego Academics.

Posted: September 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

Some of you may have heard about the restructure of Humanities at the University of Otago. Owing to a decline in student numbers, the University is claiming the Division of Humanities has a budget shortage that must be balanced by cutting staff. A number of Departments within the Division are being targeted for staff redundancies by the end of the year. See here:

The Tertiary Education Union is running a Heart Humanities campaign to support affected staff and to challenge the timeframe and scope of the cuts. Some context to this situation is the National Government’s funding of Maths and Science students at a higher rate than Humanities enrolments and the University’s budget priorities, which include spending millions on campus beautification projects and sponsoring rugby teams!

While we have strong support from within the University from staff and students, we also need public support, and in particular, support from external Universities and scholars. We have set up a petition to collate external support. Please sign & share:

For those of you on twitter & Facebook, you can add the HUMANITIES twibbon to your profile picture at

If you’re a humanities graduate and/ or have participated in research or teaching events in the Division as a visiting scholar or student, please follow our Twitter account and Tweet your support @OtagoUniTEU

University Management cares deeply about the public reputation and brand of the University. They want to make these cuts quickly and quietly and we hope to make as much noise and share as much support for our colleagues as possible.

Australian Universities’ Review Special issue: Challenging the Privatised University.

Modern universities have always been part of and embedded into capitalism in political, economic and cultural terms. In 1971, at the culmination of the Vietnam War, the Chomsky-Foucault debate reminded us of this fact when a young student pointed a question towards Chomsky: “How can you, with your very courageous attitude towards the war in Vietnam, survive in an institution like MIT, which is known here as one of the great war contractors and intellectual makers of this war?” (Chomsky and Foucault 2006, 63) Chomsky responded dialectically, but also had to admit that the academic institution he is working for is a major organisation of war research and thereby strengthens the political contradictions and inequalities in capitalist societies.

Edward P. Thompson, one of the central figures in the early years of British cultural studies, edited the book “Warwick University Ltd” in 1970. Thompson was working at the University of Warwick then and published together with colleagues and students a manuscript that discovered, as the title suggests, the close relationship of their university with industry and industrial capitalism. The book also revealed some evidence of secret political surveillance of staff and students by the university uncovered by students occupying the Registry at Warwick at that time.

The relationship between state control and global capitalism has intensified in the last decades. With the collapse of the welfare state and the drop of public funds, universities are positioning themselves as active agents of global capital, transforming urban spaces into venues for capital accumulation and competing for international student populations for profit. In this environment, students have to pay significant amounts of tuition for precarious futures. Similarly, teaching and research faculties across the globe have to negotiate their roles that are often strictly defined in an entrepreneurial manner. Increasingly, the value of academic labour is measured in capitalist terms and therefore subject to new forms of control, surveillance and productivity measures. As the recent cases of Steven Salaita (USA), Academics for Peace (Turkey) and the crackdown against students in India reveal, academic labour and academics in general are also facing immense challenges in terms of state control and freedom of speech.

Situated in this economic and political context, the overall task of this special issue of tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique is to gather critical contributions examining universities, academic labour, digital media and capitalism. We are thus particularly interested in articles focusing on (1) the context, history and theoretical concepts underlying academic labour, (2) the relationship between academic work and digital media/new information and communication technologies/the Internet/social media and (3) the political potentials and challenges within higher education.

We welcome submissions that cover one or more of the following or related questions.

1. Contextualising and Theorising Academic Labour

  • What is the historical role of universities and academic labour and how has it changed over time?
  • What is the role of universities for capitalist development in the age of neoliberalism and post-Fordism (e.g. employability, market-driven and industrial research)?
  • How far can the neoliberal university be considered as medium and outcome of informational capitalism?
  • How far can the university expansion be understood as a dialectic development of progress and regress, social achievement and advanced commodification?
  • What is meant by concepts such as Warwick University Ltd, McUniversity, academic proletarianisation, edu-factory, corporate university, academic capitalism, entrepreneurial university, university gamble, digital diploma mills, global university, DIY university, etc. in the context of academic labour? How are these concepts related to the wider social context and the existing capitalist order? How can a systematic typology of the existing literature be constructed?
  • What is the role of the concept of value for understanding academic labour?
  • What is the role of the concepts of the working class and the proletariat for theorising academic labour?
  • How should we define academic labour; who is included/excluded by this understanding? Where does adjunct labour stand?
  • What kind of workers are academics and how are they related to knowledge, informational and cultural workers?
  • How far can the outcomes of academic labour be considered as part of the information and communication commons?
  • To what extent rests informational capitalism on the commons produced at universities?
  • What are the important dimensions for constructing a typology of working conditions within higher education (e.g. new managerialism, audit culture, workload, job insecurity)?
  • How do different working contexts and conditions in academia shape feelings of autonomy, flexibility and reputation on the one hand and precariousness, overwork and dissatisfaction on the other?

2. Academic Labour and Digital Media

  • Given that the academic work process is today strongly mediated through digital media, to what extent can academic workers be considered as digital workers, and academic labour as digital labour?
  • In how far can digital education and online distance learning be understood as a new capital accumulation strategy that aims at attracting international students in a commodified and competitive higher education market?
  • In how far can digital education be regarded as a response to neoliberal conditions within higher education?
  • How do digital media/new information and communication technologies/the Internet/social media frame the working conditions of academics?
  • How are the working conditions of academics characterised by intensification and extensification in the realm of the digital university (e.g. the blurring of working space and other spaces of human life, the blurring of labour and free time, fast academia, always-on cultures, deskilling, casualisation, electronic monitoring, digital surveillance, social media use for self-promotion, new forms of intellectual property rights)?

3. Politics, Struggles and Alternatives

  • How do the broader political realities and potentials in terms of solidarity, participation and democracy at universities look like?
  • What is the relationship between the state and academic labour? What are some of the lessons that we can learn from global crackdowns on academic labour?
  • What are the challenges in order to reclaim the university as site of struggle for both academics and students?
  • How far can the struggle at universities be connected to the global struggle against capitalism?
  • How do the political potentials of alternatives within higher education look like (e.g. informal learning processes, co-operative education, open education, open access, copyleft, creative and digital commons, Wikiversity)?


Abstract submission: 31 October 2016

All abstracts will be reviewed and decisions on acceptance/rejection will be communicated to the authors by the end of November 2016.

Full paper submission: 15 April 2017

Please submit article title, author name(s), contact data, e-mail address(es), institutional affilation and abstract of 200-400 words to: Thomas Allmer, and Ergin Bulut,

About the Guest Editors:

Thomas Allmer is Lecturer in Digital Media at the University of Stirling, Scotland, UK, and a member of the Unified Theory of Information Research Group, Austria. His publications include Towards a Critical Theory of Surveillance in Informational Capitalism (Peter Lang, 2012) and Critical Theory and Social Media: Between Emancipation and Commodification (Routledge, 2015). For further information, please see:

Ergin Bulut is Assistant Professor of Media and Visual Arts in Istanbul. His research interests include political economy of media, digital media and politics, and media labor. Together with Michael A. Peters, he edited Cognitive Capitalism, Education and Digital Labor (Peter Lang, 2011). His work has been published in TV & New Media, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Media, Culture and Society, and Journal of Communication Inquiry.

About the Journal:

tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique. Open Access Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society,

Editors: Christian Fuchs, University of Westminster, UK, and Marisol Sandoval, City University London, UK

tripleC is a journal that focuses on critical studies of communication in and beyond capitalism. Articles in it should employ critical theories and/or empirical research inspired by critical theories and/or philosophy and ethics guided by critical thinking as well as relate the analysis to power structures and inequalities of capitalism, especially forms of stratification such as class, racist and other ideologies and capitalist patriarchy.

tripleC is indexed in the databases Communication Source, Scopus and Web of Sciene Emerging Sources Citation Index.


Chomsky, Noam and Michel Foucault. 2006. Human Nature: Justice vs. Power (1971): A Debate between Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault. In The Chomsky-Foucault Debate: On Human Nature, edited by Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault, 1-67. New York: New Press.

Thompson, Edward, ed. 1970. Warwick University Ltd. London: Penguin Books.