ERG SES H 06, Parallel Session H 06
The main objective of my reflection is to analyse the erosion of cultural function of the modern, Western university, as a result of the commercialization process. I wish to argue and defend the following thesis: the ability of the university - as a “counter institution” - to democratize the society by supplying the students with critical thinking, has been weakened by the process of galloping commercialization, which subordinates all noncommodified democratic values to the dictates of the market.
Commercialization reduces value of the university to an adjunct for the business world, resulting in the relegation of higher learning to the status of the ornamental. Followers of the market model of university are convinced that education is only about job training or competitive market advantage. Thus, the meaning of knowledge has been reduced from the part of a broader emancipatory discourse to a market product. In this context, designing the modern, Western societies as a “Knowledge Societies” is only a rhetorical trick.
Turning its back on the public and cultural good, the academy has largely opened its doors to serving private interests and in doing so, has compromised its role as a democratic public sphere. This current, dominant pressures – also as a result of the Bologna Process – remove the university from its traditional obligation to teach students how to think critically, connect self-knowledge to larger social issues, take risks and develop a sense of social responsibility. As a result, the exclusive status of higher education is being reduced to the cultural bluff, where “learner” status is only a simulacrum with its role to improve an individual sense of well-being. Consequently, the role of university is being reduced to reproduce the typical consumer’s attitudes: philistine-man, blasé-man, inferior-man, cynic-man. This process is very dangerous for Western cultures and societies, because democracy cannot work if citizens are not autonomous, self-reflective, and independent.
According to above-mentioned reflections, I would like to consider two main questions: do we live at a time when education needs to be reborn if democracy is to survive? How to avoid the trap connected with isolation of university as well as the trap of subordinating it to the external world?
Main references: 1. T. Adorno, M. Horkheimer. 2010. Dialectic of Enlinghtenment. Political Critique. 2. J. Baudrillard. 1998. The Consumer Society: Myths and Structures. Sage Publications Ltd. 3. Z. Bauman. 2001. The Individualized Society. Polity. 4. P. Bourdieu. 2000. Pascalian Meditations. Stanford University Press. 5. A. Bloom. 1988. The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students. Simon & Schuster. 6. F. Furedi. 2006. Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone?: Confronting 21st Century Philistinism. Continuum Press. 7. A. Giddens. 1991. Modernity and Self-Identity. Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Polity. 8. H. Giroux, L. Witkowski. 2010. Education and the Public Sphere. The Ideas and Experiences of Radical Pedagogy. Impuls. 9. J. Habermas. 1991. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. The MIT Press. 10. H. Hesse. 1990. The Glass Bead Game. Holt Paperbacks. 11. S. Kozyr-Kowalski. 2005. The University and Market. UAM 12. H. Marcuse. 1991. One-Dimensional Man. Beacon Press. 13. J. Ortega y Gasset. 1994. The Revolt of the Masses. W. W. Norton & Company. 14. B. Readings. 1997. The University in Ruins. Harvard University Press. 15. R. Rorty. 1989. Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity. Cambridge University Press. 16. R. Sennett. 2006. The Culture of the New Capitalism. Yale University Press. 17. P. Sloterdijk. 1988. Critique of Cynical Reason. University of Minnesota Press.
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