Academic Knowledge and the Iron Cage: The Crisis of Pedagogical Autonomy in the Information Age.

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This paper is a critical analysis of the development of bureaucratic-administrative control over what I call " pedagogical knowledge", that specific kind of knowledge produced by academic laborers in the classroom. It focuses primarily on the increasing rationalization, in Max Weber's terms, of the process of evaluation. Increasing formalization of evaluation procedures has expanded to the point where producers of academic knowledge have become alienated (in Marx's sense) from the substantive products of their own labor. The paper looks at issues of ownnership of pedagogical capital, and in particular the production, distribution, and consumption of evaluational measures which are, increasingly outside of the knowledge producer's control. Strategies for countering this new form of rationalized evaluation are offered, the praxis in this case being oriented toward offering pedagogical knowledge producers more control over the management and control of their teaching practice in the face of a complex network of evaluation which presently excludes them, and concedes the determination of the value of pedagogical practice and knowledge almost to administrators and students in an increasingly consumerized society where teaching has become just one of an infinite variety of cultural commodities. The paper analyzes the administrative practices of ten leading liberal arts colleges in order to suggest the dominant patterns of the rationalization of pedagogical knowledge and its effect on the value and quality of academic labor.


Keywords: Pedagogical Knowledge, Evaluation Technologies, Rationalization-Bureaucratization of Pedagogy, Professorial Autonomy in Academic Life
Stream: Knowledge and Technology
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Professor Thomas Cushman

Professor of Sociology, Wellesley College
Wellesley, MA, USA

Thomas Cushman is Professor of Sociology at Wellesley College. His areas of study include human rights, comparative sociology, genocide, and the sociology of culture. He is the author of numerous books and articles on topics ranging from cultural dissidence in Russia to the war in Bosnia and Hercegovina. He is , the founding editor of Human Rights Review, and the founding editor editor-in-chief (2000-2006) and currently editor-at-large of The Journal of Human Rights, published by Routledge. He is currently writing on the consequences of technology in higher education, with a special focus on a critical examination of the ways in which technology have enhanced and/or mitigated what he called "pedagogical knowledge," that form of knowledge produced by the professor in the time-space scenario of the classroom

Ref: T08P0229