Skip navigation

Tag Archives: Sausage Factory

Education Crisis

Education Crisis


Call for Papers

This is a stream of the London Conference in Critical Thought 2013

For full details on the conference, see:

Stream organiser: Joyce Canaan


Numerous critical authors have recently observed that higher education is: in ‘crisis’ (Thorpe 2008); under ‘assault’ (Bailey and Freedman 2011); at its ‘end’ (Vernon 2010) or ‘in ruins’ (Readings 1996). These observations capture critical academics’ efforts to evaluate how processes of privatisation, marketisation and financialisation have impacted northern and southern university systems during the past 40 years and have led to a nearly ‘complete subordination of intellectual life to instrumental values and, most brutally, to the measure of money’ (Thorpe 2008).

Recent resistance to government policies on university has taken two forms: student-led demonstrations, occupations and actions and the emergence of ‘free’ or ‘alternative’ universities. This stream seeks to explore the latter, less explored alternatives, guided by Brown’s (2005:5) observation that the concept of critique comes from the Greek word ‘krisis’, used to explain the processes of ‘judging and rectifying an alleged disorder in or of the democracy’. The contemporary meaning of critique as ‘temporal rupture and repair’ (2005:7) contains elements of this earlier meaning; it entails and presumes a certain urgency to reconsider and rebuild, or to create an alternative to, that which has been torn asunder. Critique might also benefit from insights from historical materialism. Brown (2005:13), building on Benjamin, notes that the historical materialist reroutes ‘by rethinking the work of history in the present, stilling time to open time’. Stilling the seeming inevitability of the trajectory from past to present opens up the present and past to: ‘act[s] of reclamation’, re-viewing and thereby potentially reworking for a more emancipatory future.

Papers for this stream are thus asked to explore how emergent alternative universities today can be seen to operate as acts of reclamation—and might do so more effectively in future. Questions for consideration include:

  • What perceived limits of the public university impel a group to build an alternative?
  • Which theoretical and activist traditions inform their project?
  • What vision(s) of critical theory and/or historical materialism guide them?
  • What understandings of critical education shape their efforts to overcome/avoid perceived limits to the public university?
  • What theories of radical pedagogy inform their practices?
  • To what degree do insights from social movement theories and practices inform their theories / practices? And, in addition, contribute to the social movement literature?
  • What kinds of spaces do they seek to meet, teach and act in? Why?
  • How do they negotiate problems? What theories and practices inform these negotiations?
  • What are their strategies for reaching others as teaching and/or researching partners and how effective are they?
  • How central is praxis to their project?

Please send abstracts for 20-minute papers to with the subject as: ‘Higher Education Submission’.



Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas:

Glenn Rikowski on Facebook at:

Online Publications at:


A paper on the crisis in higher education, by Glenn Rikowski:

Rikowski, G. (2012) Life in the Higher Sausage Factory, Guest Lecture to the Teacher Education Research Group, The Cass School of Education and Communities, University of East London, 22nd March, online at:

For more on this paper, see:

Marxism Against Postmodernism in Educational Theory

Marxism Against Postmodernism in Educational Theory





Crisis in Education


The formation of the Council for the Defence of British Universities (CDBU) was announced in The Guardian on Thursday 8th November. See

From the CDBU website:

Defending A World-Class System

Universities are amongst Britain’s most successful institutions. They currently occupy four of the top six places in the QS/USNWR World University Rankings, three of the top ten of the Times Higher World University Rankings, and two of the top ten in the Academic Ranking of World Universities, with all the others going to US institutions.

They mark the ‘frontier of possibility’, according to a recent EC-sponsored study, for the efficient production of both high quality research and highly sought-after graduates:

* They produce more academic papers, citations, and highly cited papers per unit of research expenditure than any other country in the G8;

* They also rank amongst the best systems globally in performing all the other functions expected of a great university system aside from research

* They attract more international students than any university system but the US, and a higher proportion of international students than any other system but Australia

Yet the character of Britain’s universities is being radically altered.

For decades, UK universities have been bound by increasingly restrictive management practices, loaded with endlessly augmented administrative burdens, and stretched virtually to breaking point. Now, in the two years since the publication of the Browne Review‘a radical reform of the higher education system’has begun, designed to change its character fundamentally, permanently, and virtually overnight.

Although these radical changes were planned in detail before the last election, no democratic mandate for them was ever sought. Although opposed by student protests, devastated by scholarly criticism, and unsupported by even the most elementary analysis of the empirical evidence, these changes are being driven forward relentlessly without benefit of Parliamentary debate or public scrutiny.

Why has opposition to these changes proved so ineffective?

The basic answer is surprisingly simple. In the protracted recession of a knowledge economy, where knowledge is money and growth is elusive, powerful forces are bending the university to serve short-term, primarily pragmatic, and narrowly commercial ends. And no equal and opposite forces are organised to resist them.

The UK higher education sector is crowded with bodies representing the interests of one academic group or another: The Russell GroupUniversities UKMillion+, The 1994 GroupUniversity Alliance, the UCU, and the NUS, to name a few.

But no organisation exists to defend academic values and the institutional arrangements best suited to fostering them.

The problem is not that academic values are obsolete: in an increasingly complex world, they are as valid and important as ever. But after decades of subordinating them to other priorities, it can no longer be taken for granted that every educated person understands the enormous value to society as a whole of maintaining places devoted primarily to the pursuit of understanding and to the transmission of that pursuit to the next generation.

The CDBU has been established to fill this void.

Academic values need fresh reformulation and skilful advocacy by influential figures both in and outside the academic world. Scores of these figures have now come together to form the nucleus of the Council for the Defence of British Universities.

Find out who we areDiscover what we stand forJoin us.

See the CDBU website at:


Update: 15th November 2012

Academics have started to argue back on higher education reforms, by Peter Scott, in ‘The Guardian’, 12th November (online):  and 13th November (hard copy), p.39.



Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas:

Online Publications at:

Glenn Rikowski’s paper on higher education, Life in the Higher Sausage Factory:

Rikowski, G. (2012) Life in the Higher Sausage Factory, Guest Lecture to the Teacher Education Research Group, The Cass School of Education and Communities, University of East London, 22nd March, online at:

Capitalism in Crisis


Call for Papers: Association of American Geographers ( AAG ) Annual Meeting 2013, Los Angeles April 9 -13th

Finance and the Realization of Value in the “Social Factory”

Co-organized by Mark Kear (Simon Fraser University) and Lana Swartz (University of Southern California)

Session Overview

This session explores the changing role of money and finance in the realization of value outside traditional sites of production, and through social processes and activities not historically associated with value production. Over the last three decades geographers have documented dramatic transformations in the nature of labor in affluent capitalist states. These transformations have been attended by a growth in insecure, casualized, and irregular employment; a blurring of work and non-work time as well as a rise in the prominence of “entrepreneurial,” “affective,” “creative” and “immaterial” labour. Italian autonomists (e.g. Hardt and Negri 2010, Marazzi 2011, Vecellone 2007) argue that these shifts in the nature of work have dispersed and decentralized the valorization process to a point where ‘the whole society is placed at the disposal of profit’ (Negri, 1989: 79 cited in Gill and Pratt 2007) – turning society into a “social factory” for the production of value. This “real subsumption of society under capital,” however, creates challenges for the regulation of productive processes and the realization of value created beyond the “factory gate.”

With these challenges in mind, we hope to explore how innovations in payments systems, banking, financial analytics and credit scoring products as well as other financial apparatuses (e.g. loan products, mobile apps, transaction services, etc.) enable the capitalization and regulation of diffuse value producing activity (in the home, online, etc.), and help capture surpluses produced through such activity. According to Hardt and Negri (2009: 289) “only finance is able to oversee and compel the flexibility, mobility and precariousness of biopolitical labor-power;” however, the specific financial devices (Muniesa, Millo and Callon 2007) and mechanisms through which everyday activities and forms of sociality are rendered sources of economic value remain largely unstudied.

The current efforts of financial institutions, state regulators and consumer advocates to build a more “inclusive” financial system, develop new products, and harness new data sources, promise to produce new “spaces” into which financial markets can expand and “empower” the excluded. Some of these efforts lay new infrastructures of value transfer and production, while others work to privatize and “ride the rails” of public systems (Maurer 2012). We hope this session will facilitate a rewarding and critical discussion about this post-subprime crisis future of financialization – its vectors, contradictions, geographies, and targets for resistance.

Possible paper topics and themes include:

– Money and payment infrastructures

– Financial empowerment, financial inclusion and financial citizenship

– Behavioral finance, financial education and financial subject formation

– Geographies of transactional finance

– Biocapitalism / cognitive capitalism

– South-to-north policy transfer / finance and the “bottom of the pyramid”

– Asset-based welfare and neoliberalization

– Mobile banking and prepaid cards

– Finance and precarity

– Financial ethnography

– Consumer finance, social protection and personal responsibility

– Finance and class

– Resistance to financialization

– Finance and the commons

– Financial reform

– Finance and measurement (e.g. data, scoring, and risk)

– Finance and social capital

– Debtor-creditor relations

– Finance and philanthrocapitalism

Submissions need not be limited to these suggestions; we welcome abstracts with expansive interpretations of these topics and themes.

Please send proposed titles and abstracts of up to 250 words to Mark Kear ( ) and Lana Swartz ( ) by October 1st , 2012.


Gill, R., & Pratt, A. (2008). In the Social Factory? Immaterial Labour, Precariousness and Cultural Work. Theory Culture and Society , 25 (7-8), 1–30.
Marazzi, C. (2011). The Violence of Financial Capitalism . Los Angeles: Semiotext(e).
Maurer, B. (2012). Mobile Money: Communication, Consumption and Change in the Payments Space. Journal of Development Studies , 48 (5), 589–604.
Muniesa, F., Millo, Y., & Callon, M. (2007). An introduction to market devices. Socialogical Review , 55 (2), 1–12.
Negri, A., & Hardt, M. (2009). Commonwealth . Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard Press.
Vercellone, C. (2007). From Formal Subsumption to General Intellect: Elements for a Marxist Reading of the Thesis of Cognitive Capitalism. Historical Materialism , 15 (1), 13–36.

First published at:


‘Human Herbs’ – a new remix and new video by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon:

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas:


Online Publications at:

Glenn Rikowski’s paper, Critical Pedagogy and the Constitution of Capitalist Society has been published at Heathwood Press as a Monthly Guest Article for September 2012, online at:

Heathwood Press:

Glenn Rikowski



Dr. Glenn Rikowski, School of Education, University of Northampton

Guest Lecture to the Teacher Education Research Group

22nd March 2012, The Cass School of Education and Communities, University of East London

At last, I have found the time to html code ‘Life in the Higher Sausage Factory’ and put it on The Flow of Ideas website.

I have added a short Preface to explain the provenance and development of the paper.

Here is the link to the paper:

Here is the full reference:

Rikowski, G. (2012) Life in the Higher Sausage Factory, Guest Lecture to the Teacher Education Research Group, The Cass School of Education and Communities, University of East London, 22nd March, online at:

If you would like a Word version of this paper then send an email to and I will send it via email attachment.

Best wishes

Glenn Rikowski, London, 28th August 2012.

“Capitalist production is not merely the production of commodities, it is essentially the production of surplus-value. The labourer produces, not for himself, but for capital. It no longer suffices, therefore, that he should simply produce. He must produce surplus-value. That labourer alone is productive, who produces surplus-value for the capitalist, and thus works for the self-expansion of capital. If we may take an example from outside the sphere of production of material objects, a schoolmaster is a productive labourer, when, in addition to belabouring the heads of his scholars, he works like a horse to enrich the school proprietor. That the latter has laid out his capital in a teaching factory, instead of a sausage factory, does not alter the relation. Hence the notion of a productive labourer implies not merely a relation between work and useful effect, between labourer and product of labour, but also a specific, social relation of production, a relation that has sprung up historically and stamps the labourer as the direct means of creating surplus-value. To be a productive labourer is, therefore, not a piece of luck, but a misfortune” (Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I).


Update 12th February 2014

This paper can now also be found at Academia (in a Word document):



‘Human Herbs’ – a new remix and new video by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon:

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas:

Online Publications at: