Thomas Docherty
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The exceptional and the ordinary
in The new treason of the intellectuals
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The contemporary institution fails to understand the real meaning of ‘mass higher education’. A mass higher education should address the concerns of those masses of ‘ordinary people’ who, for whatever reasons, do not attend a University. Instead, the contemporary sector simply admits more individuals from lower social and economic classes. Behind this is a deep suspicion of the intellectual whose knowledge marks them out as intrinsically elitist and not ‘of the people’. An intellectual concerned about everyday life is now seen as suspicious, given the normative belief that a University education is about individual competitive self-advancement. This intellectual is now an enemy of ‘the people’, and incipiently one who might even be regarded as criminal in dissenting from conformity with social norms of neoliberalism. There is a history to this, dating from 1945, and it sets up a contest between two version of the University; one sees it as a centre of humane and liberal values, the other as the site for the production of individuals who conform to and individually benefit from neoliberal greed. The genuine exception is the intellectual who dissents; but dissent itself is now seen as potentially criminal.

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The new treason of the intellectuals

Can the University survive?


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