The Ivory Tower Inc.: A critical history of Utrecht University’s management from WUB to MUB
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In the late twentieth century Dutch academia reorganised several times. The main argument is that these reorganisations dialectically interact with cultural imaginaries of the university. Efforts to democratise the university run parallel to the conception of the university as ‘community’, whereas managerialisation is congruent with notions of the university as ‘goal organisation’ or ‘enterprise’. Indeed, the university developed as an increasingly managerialist institution. Throughout this history legislative reforms mark turning points, beginning with the Wet Universitaire Bestuurshervorming (WUB) and ending with the Wet Modernisering Universiteitsbestuur (MUB). Nevertheless, the periods before and between these pivot points are of critical importance, as this is when the optima forma of the university is under discussion, and, parallelly, reconstructions of the academy occur. I have conceptualised the discussion along three different notions of how power should be organised: oligarchy, managerialism or democracy. This thesis is informed by critical social theory. Concepts of sociologist Pierre Bourdieu account for social reproductive tendencies in the academic field, whereas class conflict theory explains social change in that same field. I have argued that the salience of democratic discourse and the proletarianization of the academy are mutually supportive. The WUB aimed to combine democratic and managerial discourses. I have demonstrated, though, that as the WUB-system was constructed, the advantages hang heavily towards the managerial side. Managerialism consolidated evermore as a result of transformations in the financial infrastructure of academia. The ongoing process towards a managerialist university ultimately culminated, and was codified, in the MUB. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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