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The Corporatisation of Education: Bureaucracy, boredom, and Transformative Possibilities

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In school and tertiary education sectors, the rise of accountability regimes parallels the growth in bureaucracy and marketisation of knowledge work. Increasing student numbers have not been matched by an increase in teaching staff, whilst new administrative positions in accounting, marketing, and legal services have ballooned. In this paper we are concerned to examine the impact of these institutional changes on the lived experiences of education professionals. In this context we are particularly interested in the potential rise of boredom among staff, and how boredom may work alongside other affects to generate both compliance and resistance to hyper-bureaucratic trends. Empirical studies on the intensification of 'administrivia' and 'busy work' in educational settings reveal among staff a perceived loss of intellectual integrity, longer work hours and impaired productivity, as well as diminished opportunities for interpersonal engagement. The collective feelings of anger, resentment, anxiety, and frustration that have accompanied these conditions have real potential to bottom out in feelings of disengagement and boredom among educators. Noting boredom's role in sustaining hyper-bureaucratic structures within the education sector, we critically examine whether and to what extent it might also form part of shifting affective dynamics that can drive resistance to the proliferation of these structures.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2020

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  • new formations is an inter-disciplinary journal of culture, politics and theory. It covers a wide range of issues, from the seduction of perversity to questions of nationalism and postcolonialism.

    'essential reading for those who want to understand politics in the light of the most important trends in contemporary theory' Chantal Mouffe.

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