Theorising and Analysing Academic Labour
The aim of this article is to contextualise universities historically within capitalism and to analyse academic labour and the deployment of digital media theoretically and critically. It argues that the post-war expansion of the university can be considered as medium and outcome of informational capitalism and as a dialectical development of social achievement and advanced commodification. The article strives to identify the class position of academic workers, introduces the distinction between academic work and labour, discusses the connection between academic, information and cultural work, and suggests a broad definition of university labour. It presents a theoretical model of working conditions that helps to systematically analyse the academic labour process and to provide an overview of working conditions at universities. The paper furthermore argues for the need to consider the development of education technologies as a dialectics of continuity and discontinuity, discusses the changing nature of the forces and relations of production, and the impact on the working conditions of academics in the digital university. Based on Erik Olin Wright’s inclusive approach of social transformation, the article concludes with the need to bring together anarchist, social democratic and revolutionary strategies for establishing a socialist university in a commons-based information society.
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