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Beyond the disenchanted university: A pharmacology of the British university in the age of Coronavirus

Featherstone, Mark



In the teeth of the coronavirus crisis the British HE system has been thrown into chaos and the severe limitations of the market model have been cruelly exposed. After thirty years of expansion and increasing neoliberalization, the contradictions of the marketized system have been realized by the virus, pushing the entire sector to the edge of bankruptcy. On this basis it is easy to see why the British HE system is haunted by the spectres of commodification, proletarianization, devaluation, alienation, disenchantment and, what Bernard Stiegler calls, disbelief and discredit. From this point of view the future of the British university looks bleak and yet we must consider the pharmacological possibilities that might arise from this dark situation. After explaining the history of the neoliberalization of British HE through the lens of Stiegler’s work in the first part of the article, and then exploring the history of the university in the second part of the paper, in the concluding section I seek to consider ways in which it might be possible to use the crisis to escape the grip of ever-increasing technological nihilism and invent a new model of HE beyond the disenchanted university.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 9, 2021
Online Publication Date Dec 9, 2021
Publication Date Jan 1, 2023
Deposit Date Jun 5, 2023
Print ISSN 1071-4413
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 45
Issue 1
Pages 29-52