Re-engineering Higher Education: The Subsumption of Academic Labour and the Exploitation of Anxiety

  • Richard Hall De Montfort University
  • Kate Bowles University of Wollongong
Keywords: Marx and Engels, subsumption, anxiety, academic labour

Abstract

This article analyses the political economy of higher education, in terms of Marx and Engels’ conception of subsumption. It addresses the twin processes of formal and real subsumption, in terms of the re-engineering of the governance of higher education and the re-production of academic labour in the name of value. It argues that through the imposition of architectures of subsumption, academic labour becomes a source of both overwork and anxiety. The article employs Marx and Engels’ categorizations of formal and real subsumption, in order to work towards a fuller understanding of abstract academic labour, alongside its psychological impacts. The article closes by examining whether narratives of solidarity, in particular from marginalised voices, might help academics and students to analyse and then move beyond their alienated labour.
Published
2016-09-16