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Hegemonic University Tales: Discussing Narrative Positioning within the Academic Field between Humboldtian and Managerial Governance
Lueg, Klarissa; Graf, Angela; POWELL, Justin J W
2020In Lueg, Klarissa; Lundholt, Marianne Wolff (Eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Counter-Narratives


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Keywords :
university; higher education; governance; Humboldt; managerial; New Public Management; discourse; narrative; academy; model
Abstract :
[en] This chapter observes and analyzes hegemonic narratives in and of the academic field. In particular, our focus is on normative and evaluative accounts relating to forms of university governance. We suggest centering on two overarching approaches to what is seen as legitimate in terms of governing the university. First, we trace the age-old Humboldtian perspective, representing especially professorial independence and self-governance. Second, we consider the newer managerial perspective, separating top-down university management decision-making separate from (or counter to) faculty influence. We find that, as the latter form is currently taking hold within European universities, scholarly remembrance of the former Humboldtian governance tradition has morphed into a nearly uncritical, hegemonic tale of a glorified past. In contrast, we suggest, the managerial perspective represents a powerful ante-narrative, a hegemonic story in-the-making. The morally laden, and somewhat fantastical, Humboldtian tale, being itself hegemonic, is unfit to serve as a critical counter-narrative vis-à-vis the managerial approach that has attained considerable authority. Thus, we argue that contemporary governance discourse is suspended between two poles: the Humboldtian perspective, favoring professorial power and authority relations, and the managerial perspective, subordinating faculty under market considerations and continuous evaluation. The dilemma arising from this “suspension” also renders the governance discourse into regions of impracticality and elitism. We argue that a counter-narrative fit to challenge the managerialist governance structures in practice is lacking, with elitism continuously reproduced in-between an ancient hegemonic narrative (Humboldtian) and equally hegemonic contemporary ante-narrative (managerialist).
Research center :
Institute of Education & Society (InES)
Disciplines :
Education & instruction
Sociology & social sciences
Author, co-author :
Lueg, Klarissa;  University of Southern Denmark
Graf, Angela;  TU München
POWELL, Justin J W  ;  University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Education, Culture, Cognition and Society (ECCS)
External co-authors :
Language :
Title :
Hegemonic University Tales: Discussing Narrative Positioning within the Academic Field between Humboldtian and Managerial Governance
Publication date :
Main work title :
The Routledge Handbook of Counter-Narratives
Editor :
Lueg, Klarissa
Lundholt, Marianne Wolff
Publisher :
Routledge, Abingdon, Unknown/unspecified
Pages :
Focus Area :
Educational Sciences
Name of the research project :
R-AGR-0221 - IRP14 - EDRESGOV (20140901-20180930) - POWELL Justin J W
Funders :
University of Luxembourg - UL
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since 23 January 2020


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