23 SES 12 A, Resisting Neoliberalism in an Era of Risk: Local, national and transnational perspectives: Part 2
Symposium continued from 23 SES 09 A
Despite the rapid spread of neoliberal ideas and practices over the past twenty years in Irish society and education, a process accelerated by the financial crisis and the implementation of austerity policies, the cracks and limits of this project are now readily apparent. Based on desk based and qualitative research I will discuss how activists, students and staff have sought to resist the neoliberalisation of Irish higher education and the sort of ‘repertoires of resistance’ which they have used. These various forms of resistance will be analysed from a critical realist perspective (Bhaskar, 1979) drawing on resources from cultural political economy and cultural studies. Of particular interest here is how we situate acts of resistance within a more general theory of society and how ‘everyday’ practices and values that are not explicitly political might be understood in relation to more formal political acts of resistance. Specifically, I will make a case for 1) understanding domination and resistance in education from a systemic perspective which views neoliberal capitalism as a highly complex, variegated and multi-scalar phenomenon (Brenner et al, 2010); and at the same time paying attention to 2) both everyday (Certeau, 1984) and political forms of resistance in a specific context and how these forms of resistance relate to the history of particular institutions situated within a ‘field’ of practice (Bourdieu, 1984). To reflect on the interplay of systemic imperatives and contextual modes of resistance in a given field I will turn to Raymond Williams (1977) who argued it was useful to distinguish dominant from residual or emergent meanings, values, and practices in critical historical analysis. I will use this framework to assess the successes and failures of resistance to the neoliberalisation of Irish HE. I will conclude with reflections on the need to build alliances and dialogue between residual and emergent cultures in Irish HE, and elaborate a new vision of the university which draws critically on a notion of the public good and ‘the commons’ (De Angelis, 2017).
Bhaskar, R. (1979). The possibility of naturalism: a philosophical critique of the contemporary human sciences, Atlantic Highlands, N.J: Humanities Press. Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: a social critique of the judgement of taste, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Brenner, N., Peck, J. & Theodore, N. (2010) ‘Variegated neoliberalization: Geographies, modalities, pathways’, Global Networks 10(2): 1-41 Certeau, M. (1984). The practice of everyday life, Berkeley: University of California Press. De Angelis, M. (2017). Omnia sunt communia. On the commons and the transformation to postcapitalism. London: Zed Books. Williams, R. (1977). Marxism and literature, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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