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Captured by the Discourse? The Socially Constitutive Power of New Higher Education Discourse in the UK.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


<mark>Journal publication date</mark>05/2001
Issue number2
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)183-201
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper addresses the extent to which academic staff are ‘captured’ by the discourse associated with the ‘new higher education’ (NHE) in the UK and identifies the factors which condition their ability to displace, negotiate, reconstruct and create alternative discourses. In addressing this task, the paper draws on data from a five-year ethnographic study of an English university, NewU, a single document from NewU published after that study, a comparative study of ‘new’ academics in England and Canada, and spontaneous textual data produced at a conference on higher education. The paper concludes that the dialogical nature of universities means that the impact of NHE discourse on organizational practices is mitigated as it is read and reacted to in varied ways: that academics are not fundamentally ‘captured’ by this discursive form. However, caution is advised in extending this argument too far.