Wannabe U: Inside the Corporate University

Using ethnographic data about an American flagship university, I consider its responses to both economic and demographic changes in higher education.  I argue that rather than universities being subordinated to the production and transmittal of knowledge, as was once the case, knowledge is now subordinated to the needs of universities for profit and recognition.  Seeking profit, the university administration engages in a “new managerialism” that seeks to maximize efficiency, economy, and effectiveness and, as a by-product, undercuts faculty authority by implementing change from the top down.  I pay particular attention to such aspects of corporatization as creeping centralization, the expansion of staff relative to professors, the expansion of a contingent labor force, assembly-line education, and the advent of an accountability regime -- a politics of surveillance, control, and market management disguising itself as the value-neutral and scientific administration of individuals and organizations. 

Gaye Tuchman is professor of sociology at University of Connecticut, USA. She is well-known for her book “Making News: A Study in the Construction of Reality” that has been translated into many languages, including Chinese and Japanese. Her most recent book is “Wannabe U: Inside the Corporate University” (University of Chicago Press, 2009).