Researching the Future: Towards an Inclusive Global Knowledge Economy [PPT 8.88MB]

Researching the
Future: Towards an
Inclusive Global
Knowledge Economy
Professor Louise Morley
Centre for Higher Education and Equity
Research (CHEER)
University of Sussex, UK
Provocations/ Being Untoward
• What is the field of social science
research and who is defining it?
• Who are the standard makers?
• How have neoliberal and austerity
policy cultures influenced social
science research?
• Does social science research
detect some forms of knowing and
exclude others?
• What does research do to
academic identities?
• Who/ what is excluded from the
global research economy?
• What is the future for critical
Shifting Research Rationalities
• The Knowledge Economy
• Neo-liberal Corporate
Logic - Competition/
• Audit Culture - measuring
From Industrial Capitalism to
Information/Knowledge Capitalism
• Emphasises knowledge in creating:
economic growth
global competitiveness
• Recognises that information/
knowledge are:
highly mobile
can be globally marketed
• Driven by the Network Society
(Castells, 1996)
• Promotes dominance of economic
theories in education (Robertson, 2010)
(See Drucker, 1993, Peters, 2010; Porter, 1990)
Innocent Knowledge?
Knowledge production/
custody/ dissemination:
•Not neutral
•Infused with power
•Situated and contingent
•Largely an invested
(Wickramasinghe, 2009).
Economics Imperialism
•Research colonised by the ‘cultural
circuits’ of capitalism (Mills and Ratcliffe,
•Instrumentalisation of knowledge/
Quantifiable use value.
•Research funded for government
priorities e.g. security?
•Non-economics scholarship becoming
unfundable or unknowable?
•Counter-hegemonic/ critical scholarship
in danger of becoming ‘socially
illegitimate’ (Butler, 2006).
Value, Not Values
Research productivity =
•Indictor for performance
•Exchange in the global prestige
•Innovation for the market
Where is?
•Intellectual contribution
•Social justice
(Blackmore & Kandiko, 2011; Leathwood &
Read, 2013).
Globalisation of Scientised
Knowledge/ Power of Number
Natural sciences
•assigned matters of fact
Humanities and Social Sciences
• matters of concern.
•‘Gold-standard’ of research methods is
the randomised controlled trial… (Colley, 2013)
•Results are prioritised over processes,
numbers over experiences, procedures
over ideas, productivity over creativity
(Ball and Olmedo, 2012:91) .
•Can scientific understanding alone
provide the resources for understanding
the social world?
Management by Number
• RAE, ERA, REF Accounting
• Quantification to grade research.
• Reducing activity to a common
managerial metric.
• Research = performance indicator
for individuals, organisations, and
nation states.
• Global League Tables =
Comparison, bench-marking and
• Aspirational framework
• Prestige Economy
(Collini, 2013; Lucas, 2006)
Paradigm Wars/ Cultural Clashes
• Binaries = every concept haunted by its
mutually constituted excluded other.
Big Science v Anthropological models.
Scientific Realism v Social
Positivist/ neo-realist v Interpretative/
relativist epistemologies.
Quantitative v Qualitative methods.
Problem-solving v Critical.
Peer Reviewers: Assemblage
of Regulation?
• Guardians of ‘standards’
• Democratising intervention disguising the
steering at a distance power base.
• Part of the measuring apparatus constituted
through norms, practices and epistemologies.
• Scarce resources capriciously allocated by
non-accountable and non-transparent
• Externality problematic in resourceconstrained economies?
• Reluctance to sign over competitive
advantage to other researchers?
• Determine what remains outside of the
domain of intelligibility.
• Captured by hegemony?
Optics and Apparatus
• What is it that people
don’t see?
• Why don’t they see it?
• What do current optics/
practices/ specifications
reveal and obscure?
(Barad, 2007)
Impact/ Knowledge Mobilization
• Demand for ‘value- for-money’ accountability for publiclyfunded research.
• Demonstrable, auditable benefits:
 Economic
 Environmental
 Social
• Burden of meeting social, economic and environmental
needs placed on grant recipients?
• Research critical of government/ stakeholders?
• Metric to redirect research in politically approved
• Forcing research to conform to market ideology/ use
• Demonstrating impact – resource intensive and possibly
• Can impact be known/ predicted/ quantified in a causal
• Imposed performativity
(Brown, 2013; Colley, 2013; Fielding, 2003)
Academic Identities
• Research/ knowledge capital = KPI,
reputation, power, status and rewards.
• Identities formed and evaluated in relation
to mutable and constructed differences
and boundaries.
• Researchers positioned as supplicants for
diminishing/ highly targeted public
• Logic of relationality = for every winner
there are many losers.
• Psychic economy- shame, pride,
humiliation, anxiety.
• ‘Cruel optimism’? (Berlant, 2011).
Who is deemed capable of reason?
71% of researchers globally are men
29% women (UNESCO, 2012).
Women less likely to be:
Journal editors/cited in top-rated
journals (Tight, 2008).
Principal investigators (EC, 2011).
On research boards
Awarded large grants
Awarded research prizes (Nikiforova,
Keynote conference speakers
(Schroeder et al., 2013).
Are gender differences factored into
research itself? (EU, 2013)
Summary: Knowledge…
• Important form of global capital.
• Reduced to its economic/ exchange value
in neo-liberal economies.
• Scholarship shaped by market demands.
• Linked to performance management.
• Purports to be neutral/objective, but is
invested, situated and exclusionary.
• Production/ custody processes overlap
with social hierarchies.
• Productivity connected to predictability of
research utility.
• Value indicators can be unstable,
transitory, contingent and contextualised.
Making Alternativity Imaginable:
Social Science Researchers To…
• Resist being co-opted by narrow
research policy agendas.
• Inform policy with evidence, not vice
• Challenge and expose increasing socioeconomic inequalities/ exclusions.
• Re-invigorate knowledge production as a
site of transformation and possibility.
• Act as Socratic ‘gadflies’ (Colley, 2013).
• Trouble neo-liberal realism.
• Transgress and re-signify.
• Re-work tired, stale categories/
• Identify new optics for viewing social
• Imagine and research the future that you
want to see.
Follow Up?
Morley, L. (2014) Lost Leaders:
Women in the Global Academy.
In press, Higher Education
Research and Development.
Morley, L. (2014) Researching the
Future: Closures and Culture
Wars in the Knowledge
Economy. In press, Critical
Studies in Education
28 June, 2016