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Scholar Outsiders in the Neoliberal University: Transgressive Academic Labour in the Whitestream



Over the past 15 years of tertiary sector reform, the nature of academic governance in New Zealand universities has radically changed. Globalization, neoliberal experimentation and managerialist practices have come to characterize a higher education system where the locus of authority is at an ever-widening distance from the majority of academics. This paper uses sociological analyses of organizational structure to explore how macro and micro-level interactions within the managerialist university shape ethnicized, classed and gendered institutional status systems. Drawing on interviews with 43 Māori and Pacific senior scholars in nine universities and Wānanga, we consider the role of scholar ‘outsiders’ from the point of view of minoritized/ethnicized academics and argue that while academic labour within the institutional margins can be profoundly alienating these sites are less readily accessed by institutional elites and therefore open up possibilities for organized scholarly resistance to the neoliberal status quo.
Scholar Outsiders in the Neoliberal University:
Transgressive Academic Labour in the Whitestream
Joanna Kidman
Cherie Chu
Received: 11 September 2016 / Accepted: 28 March 2017
New Zealand Association for Research in Education 2017
Abstract Over the past 15 years of tertiary sector reform, the nature of academic
governance in New Zealand universities has radically changed. Globalization,
neoliberal experimentation and managerialist practices have come to characterize a
higher education system where the locus of authority is at an ever-widening distance
from the majority of academics. This paper uses sociological analyses of organi-
zational structure to explore how macro and micro-level interactions within the
managerialist university shape ethnicized, classed and gendered institutional status
systems. Drawing on interviews with 43 Ma¯ori and Pacific senior scholars in nine
universities and Wa¯nanga, we consider the role of scholar ‘outsiders’ from the point
of view of minoritized/ethnicized academics and argue that while academic labour
within the institutional margins can be profoundly alienating these sites are less
readily accessed by institutional elites and therefore open up possibilities for
organized scholarly resistance to the neoliberal status quo.
Keywords Higher education Institutional organization Institutional racism
Ma¯ori academics Neoliberalism Whitestream universities
The nature of academic labour in New Zealand has changed dramatically over the
past 15 years of tertiary sector reform. During that time the roles of academics and
the work they do have been reconfigured to fit the discourses of a new ‘public
&Joanna Kidman
School of Education, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140,
New Zealand
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DOI 10.1007/s40841-017-0079-y
managerialism’ that places the production of knowledge at the centre of a neoliberal
regimen of measurement, audit and performativity (Amsler and Shore 2015; Olssen
and Peters 2005). Shore (2010) contends that this form of governance constitutes a
paradigm shift from the notion of universities as a public good towards a view of
higher education as an economic investment for an educated citizenry. Inside these
managerialist regimes, universities and the groups within them battle for status,
resources and influence. At the same time, debates have intensified about the aims,
purpose and values of university education and the means by which these will be
carried out (Larner and Heron 2005).
As universities become progressively more oriented towards external demands
from policy makers, corporate sponsors, industry partners and funding agencies,
everyday academic decision-making has largely shifted from small faculty-based
units with a relative degree of intellectual and disciplinary autonomy towards more
corporate and distanced forms of governance. The effect of these widening
academic spaces can be described spatially as a form of ‘‘distance decay’’ (Eldridge
and Jones 1991) where the level of day-to-day interaction between institutional
elites and less powerful or influential academics declines and deteriorates as the
physical and cultural distances between them increase.
In this paper we examine the impact of organizational distance on academic
labour and institutional status from the point of view of minoritized/ethnicized
academics in the managerialist academy. We present findings from a two-year
ethnographic study with 43 Ma¯ori and Pacific senior academics in nine universities
and Wa¯nanga across New Zealand. These findings informed two discrete case
studies; one explored Ma¯ori academic socialization and the other examined Pacific
academic socialization. In this paper we focus primarily on findings from the Ma¯ori
case study with supplementary evidence from the Pacific cohort.
Drawing on sociological theories of work, careers and organizational structure
we examine how macro and micro-level interactions within the neoliberal university
create institutional status systems framed by ethnicized notions of academic insiders
and outsiders; a practice known as ‘‘whitestreaming’’ which refers to the structures
of academia that protect and maintain Anglo-European/Pa¯keha¯ privilege (Ritchie
2014). In line with previous studies in this area we contend that these academic
status systems are also highly classed and gendered (Ahmed 2012; Chatterjee and
Maira 2014) but argue that despite the level of isolation experienced by these
scholar outsiders their worksites are less readily accessed and monitored by
institutional elites and as such possibilities exist for creative scholarly resistance to
the managerialist status quo. As a note on terminology, the phrase ‘institutional
elites’ refers here to broad networks of actors within organizations united by shared
interests, priorities and social capital (Zald and Loundsbury 2010) who are integral
to the ‘‘regulative architecture’’ (Morris et al. 2016, p. 2280) of institutions. They
may be involved with the ‘hard’ power mechanisms of an organization (for
example, the enforcement of institutional rules and regulations) or the exercise of
‘soft’ power (for example, shaping the prevailing culture and norms of an
organization) or both.
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The ‘Hidden Transcripts’ of Academic Institutions
The sociologist, Erving Goffman, famously wrote ‘‘[o]ur status is backed by the
solid buildings of the world, while our sense of personal identity often resides in the
cracks.’’ (Goffman 1961, p. 320). He was referring to institutional identities forged
in the interstices and small corners of complex organizations such as asylums,
prisons, schools and universities. These ‘cracks’ form in parts of an institution that
are generally below the radar for managers and administrators who have little input
into the localized cultures of these environments and rarely appear in them in
person. As such, they are interstitial spaces that provide inmates with opportunities
to resist the ‘‘pull’’ of institutional life (Goffman 1961).
The public ‘front rooms’ of organizations like universities, however, are
characterized by distinctive governance structures, values and practices that
organize and link the everyday interactions and identities of those within them.
The closer an individual is to the institutional core or upper echelons of power, the
greater the degree of symbolic or cultural authority they are generally accorded and
it is in these proximities that displays of institutional unity are rewarded (Abrutyn
2016; Lawler et al. 2016). In line with this, and common in managerialist
environments, a cadre of skilled, calculative and strategic operators, known in the
organizational literature as ‘institutional entrepreneurs’ (Abrutyn and Van Ness
2015), gathers closely around the centre of authority. As Abrutyn (2016) notes,
‘[e]ntrepreneurs who carve out cores gain privilege and power and, like any interest
group, work hard to protect and, in many cases, expand their influence over the
institutional environment and across institutional boundaries.’’ (p. 222). Meso-level
institutional entrepreneurs are often highly adept at garnering material and symbolic
resources in order to advance their status and acquire privilege within the institution
(Thornton et al. 2012; Levy and Scully 2007).
In universities, these groups tend to be comprised of academics who have come
to terms with the performative and managerialist ethos of higher education and are
willing to uphold neoliberal practices and strategies on behalf of their university’s
senior leadership (Cribb et al. 2016; Leathwood and Read 2013). In New Zealand
universities and elsewhere, these institutional in-groups are dominated by Anglo-
European academics who are protective of their status and privilege (Pilkington
2013; National Tertiary Education Union 2011).
Conversely, groups positioned at the periphery of large organizations often have
less robust affinities with the official narratives and strategic aims of an
organization. The more extensive the physical, cultural and symbolic reach of an
institution, the greater the distance between the core and those at the outer limits.
Accordingly, it is often more difficult for institutional elites to mobilize support for
key initiatives from those at a symbolic, cultural or physical distance from the upper
levels of university administration (Lawler et al. 2016). Indeed, institutions tend to
be weakest at the margins and this is one of the reasons that ‘‘kings and empires
collapse’’ (Abrutyn 2016, p. 223). It is within these distal groups that local cultures
emerge offering alternative forms of institutional identity and commitment
(Anderson 2008; Collins 1986; Henderson et al. 2010; Moss and Snow 2016).
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Allegiances forged in the academic margins serve multiple purposes for scholar
outsiders. Anderson (2008) argues that interactions within and between these groups
act as ‘‘hidden transcripts’’ (p. 255) of institutional engagement that have the
potential to expand notions of resistance to the incursion of neoliberal manageri-
alism into everyday academic life and work. As such these hidden transcripts, which
often diverge considerably from official organizational narratives, can mount a
significant challenge to the institutional status quo.
As part of a two-year study of Ma¯ ori and Pacific academic socialization, in-depth,
semi-structured one-to-one ethnographic interviews and field observations (Skinner
2012) were conducted with 43 Ma¯ori (N =29) and Pacific (N =14) senior
academics in nine PhD-awarding institutions of higher education in New Zealand.
During the pilot stage of the project, participants in two universities in the Pacific
region were also interviewed in order to provide a level of contrast and comparison
with the experiences of indigenous and diasporic senior academics in New Zealand
universities. Two discrete case studies were developed, one comprised of narratives
from Ma¯ori academics and the other focused on Pacific academics. In this paper we
look primarily at the findings from the case study of Ma¯ori scholars.
The participants were Associate Professors, Professors and experienced Senior
Lecturers at the upper levels of the salary scale. We also included people with other
job titles that reflected their status as established senior researchers and scholars.
The participants were affiliated with a wide range of disciplines in the humanities,
sciences, social sciences, and professional and applied fields. Very few Ma¯ori senior
faculty are employed outside of Ma¯ ori Studies departments, however, and this
makes them relatively easy to identify. For this reason we have not named
participants’ departments, faculties and universities.
Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed except in a small number of
cases where participants preferred not to be taped. In these instances we took
extensive field notes which we showed to interviewees at the conclusion of the
interview. Most interviews were conducted in person although on a few occasions
follow-up discussions were conducted by telephone or email. Data were also
collected from observations and field journals (Kidman et al. 2015).
Academic Labour in the Whitestream University
The way that Ma¯ori senior scholars articulate their sense of belonging or distance
from academic decision-making in their departments, faculties and institutions
sheds light on how academic labour is organized in different parts of the university.
This, in turn, provides insight into how institutional knowledge circulates through a
range of networks within and across universities. When academics are deeply
embedded in these networks and flows they are more likely to establish identities
that reflect and uphold the values and beliefs of the institution (Abrutyn 2016). On
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the other hand, when they do not have a strong sense of affinity or when the
practices and policies of whitestream institutions limit or exclude their participation
in decision-making protocols are they are more likely to turn towards other scholar
outsiders at the margins for validation and solidarity (Anderson 2008). In this
section, we draw on sociological analyses of work and organizational structure to
frame our analysis. In particular, we refer to the work of Abrutyn (2016) who argues
that institutions operate in ‘four dimensional space’, namely, temporal, social,
physical and symbolic. We have used these four institutional dimensions to scaffold
our findings below.
Academic Time: The Temporal Dimension of Whitestream Universities
Time plays a key role in the organization of academic institutions. It shapes faculty
decisions, academic workloads and institutional and departmental goals, strategies
and responsibilities. Walker (2009) argues that neoliberal academic time is
increasingly commercialized and linked to market demands, globalization and
global capitalism. As such, time has become a contested site within the managerial
university and many scholars assert their resistance to compressed temporal regimes
through collective action, such as the emerging ‘slow scholarship’ movement
(Mountz et al. 2015) and other forms of tacit non-compliance. The Ma¯ori academics
who were part of this study were acutely aware of these pressures.
Yeah, the neoliberal agenda. We’re going to get squashed. Forget about
academic freedom. Research and teaching as an activity that’s government-
funded will take on the American model of nine months teaching; three
months research. At the end of the day we’ll just work bloody hard twelve
months of the year. I think that the luxury that was enjoyed by me and my
colleagues up to this point in time will be something that sits in the past. Then
you’ll get into a ‘‘publish or perish’’ mentality far more than what we’ve
experienced today. (Ma¯ ori academic).
These concerns have been raised by others in New Zealand and elsewhere (see for
example, Vostal 2016; Clarke 2015; Raaper and Olssen 2016; Stahl 2015) but as is
discussed below Ma¯ori scholars also contend with a further set of temporal realities
centred on significant disparities in their academic career trajectories.
¯ori Academic Careers and Compressed Temporal Regimes
Ma¯ori faculty make up a very small proportion of the nation’s academic workforce
(6%) and the proportion of Pacific academic staff is even smaller (2%) (Sutherland
et al. 2013). Most of these scholars are clustered in the early to mid-career stages
with very few operating at senior and late career levels (Nana et al. 2010). Part of
the reason for this is that Ma¯ori scholars generally begin their academic careers later
than Pa¯keha¯ academics. The average age for a Ma¯ori doctoral student in New
Zealand is 49 years (Nana et al. 2010) and only 5.8% of all postgraduate graduates
are Ma¯ori so only a very small number of these graduates enter academic careers
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(Theodore et al. 2015). Consequently, Ma¯ ori academic careers have a different
trajectory from most Pa¯keha¯ careers (Middleton and McKinley 2010).
Since many begin their careers closer to the age of retirement, Ma¯ori academics
tend to be engaged in early career activities at a later age than most Pa¯keha¯. The
shorter duration of Ma¯ori academic careers is problematic because scholarly
reputations generally take many years to build. Accordingly, this ‘‘swinging door’
situation means that it is difficult to establish a stable, sustainable Ma¯ori research
workforce in the higher education domain (Kidman et al. 2015). There is also a
growing body of evidence that suggests that under the current Performance-Based
Research Fund (PBRF) audit regime universities are increasingly reluctant to recruit
early career academics who are significantly older (Kidman et al. 2015). The
unwillingness of many academic managers and Deans to address these temporal
realities reinforces hiring practices that favour the employment of younger Pa¯ keha¯
academics (Potter and Cooper 2016). In this regard, the recruitment and retention of
Ma¯ori scholars in a highly competitive academic job market contributes directly to
the whitestreaming of the academy. Combined with other factors, such as the ways
that institutional status is acquired and enacted, as is discussed below, these
practices reinforce and maintain existing disparities within the academy.
Academic In-Groups and Out-Groups: The Social Dimension
of Universities
The social territories of universities tend to be partisan, fractionalized and clannish
(Campbell 2009; Becher and Trowler 2001). But the academy also looks outwards
towards wider social norms and values relating to ethnicity, gender and social class
which are incorporated into inter-group and intra-group relations.
the university doesn’t stand apart from the society it’s in. It’s an institution
that’s embedded in the wider social institutions that surround it. So it’s a nice
idea to hope that the university is going to be [] different or a bit less racist
than anywhere else but in the end the university is a creature of the society that
made it. (Ma¯ori academic).
Ethnicized status distinctions in the social sphere of universities are often enacted in
subtle ways. For example, a Ma¯ ori participant based in a small department
commented on the active social networks of her Pa¯keha¯ colleagues, as follows:
they are nice enough people and it’s not like they’re deliberately leaving me
out when they go to the pub after work or if they’re taking visiting scholars out
for lunch. Sometimes on Monday mornings I hear them talking about how
they’ve been to dinner parties at each other’s houses. I’ve never been invited
to those little shin-digs. Probably, they think I wouldn’t want to come. Well,
it’s true actually, I probably wouldn’t really but it would be nice to be invited
sometimes even if just to find out what’s going on in [the Department]. But I
don’t lose sleep over it and they’re not terrible, evil people. (Ma¯ori academic).
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The acquisition of institutional status in universities rests on a familiarity with the
unspoken rules and expectations of academia and an understanding of the ways that
in-group interactions are structured; as Gerholm (1990) notes, ‘‘[c]ompetence in the
cultural life of the discipline and the department functions as an informal sorting
device, often without the sorters and the sorted being aware of the fact’’ (p. 263).
Academics who do not have access to this tacit knowledge are often positioned as
outsiders and this was an experience that was shared by most of the Ma¯ori and
Pacific participants.
Academic communityto me, that doesn’t include me really. It’s that
powerful group of academics that sits over there. I’ve never really had a sense
of belonging to that kind of academic group. [] I never saw myself as part of
that kind of community. Even at [name of university removed] we were
academics, but as a Ma¯ori team we saw ourselves as being more part of the
community. Part of the Ma¯ ori community. (Ma¯ori academic).
The circulation of tacit knowledge and information through university networks and
cliques is shaped by subtle messages about ethnicity, gender and social class and
this has a corresponding influence on the way that many academics at the
institutional periphery carry out their work. Accordingly, much of the academic
labour of Ma¯ori scholars is highly visible within cultural and tribal networks outside
the university but often entirely invisible within their departments, faculties and
disciplines. Distinctions in social status are further reinforced by the spatial
organization of universities, as discussed below.
Academic ‘Space’: The Physical Dimension of Whitestream Universities
Physical places, their scale, size and differentiation of space, are a critical factor in
the social organization of institutions. In large or complex organizations, spatial
realities contribute to particular patterns of behaviour especially in the demarcation
of institutional boundaries and statuses. For example, the nature of the encounters
that commonly take place in a campus bar differ from interactions in a lecture
theatre, a university Library, a university Marae or the office of the Vice-
Smith (1997) argues, the ‘‘educational battleground for Ma¯ori is spatial. It is
about theoretical spaces, pedagogical spaces, structural spaces’’ (p. 203). Our focus
here is on the organization of physical spaces and way they intersect with structural
spaces. This aspect of university life was experienced variously by the participants.
Academic staff in Ma¯ ori/Indigenous Studies and Pacific Studies departments and in
academic units where there were clusters of Ma¯ori or Pacific staff, for example, had
access to regular daily contact with other Ma¯ori or Pacific colleagues. These
participants reported significantly higher levels of satisfaction with their work-
places. In departments with few Ma¯ori or Pacific academic staff, having a Ma¯ori or
Pacific colleague nearby had a positive effect on participants’ sense of institutional
belonging. In general, and with only two exceptions, Ma¯ori faculty were more likely
to experience intellectual, social and professional isolation in departments where
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there were few or no other Ma¯ ori staff. In these departments and faculties, the level
of regular, positive engagement that departmental heads and Deans have with Ma¯ori
academic and professional staff became very important and had a considerable
impact on their professional well-being (Kidman et al. 2015). These findings
provide an interesting comparison with the level of workplace well-being reported
by academic staff in Wa¯nanga who are more likely to report that their level of
satisfaction had improved over time since starting work in the sector than those in
universities or polytechnics.’’ (Bentley et al. 2014, p. 29).
The highest levels of workplace satisfaction, however, were reported by Ma¯ori
academics who had experienced and institutionally astute Ma¯ori academic managers
at the helm. One of the participants in this study, a Ma¯ori senior scholar who leads a
high-functioning academic unit, spoke of making a conscious decision to run the
department in ways that complement the cultural and family responsibilities and
priorities of staff. The physical environment was organized so that children and
older family and tribal members were welcome and comfortable spaces were set
aside for them.
It’s a place where people aren’t just stuck in their office. We move around and
talk to each other in that space. Physically, wairua is in that space. I’m not
interested in whether people are there nine to five. It’s about the work that
people are doing, the projects that they’ve got, making sure that whatever
work they’ve got, it’s reasonable in terms of time, energy, support,
expectation, et cetera et cetera.’’ (Head of academic unit/Ma¯ori academic).
In these environments, Ma¯ ori academics are more likely to consider themselves part
of an academic community that is attenuated to their intellectual, cultural and
personal priorities. At the same time, the willingness of academic managers to
welcome Ma¯ori community members into the academic space reduces the sense of
distance between members of academic departments and university administrators.
In this respect, spatial organization has a significant impact on the degree of affinity
people have with institutional aims and goals.
The Treaty of Waitangi: The Symbolic Dimension of Universities
Alongside the spatial organization of universities, the cultural and symbolic aspects
of academic institutions are evident in their distinctive rituals (e.g., graduation
ceremonies), practices (e.g., the structuring of faculty meetings, large group
lectures) and ‘official’ values and beliefs (e.g., institutional mission statements and
strategic plans). In New Zealand government discourse, a great deal of attention is
given to the relationship of government with Ma¯ori peoples and the Treaty of
Waitangi is a central symbol that has come to represent values of cultural fairness,
inclusion and equality (Crocket 2009). Accordingly, New Zealand universities
reference the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi in their mission statements and
equity and diversity policies, yet in most institutions, there has been little or no
corresponding structural change to facilitate equitable relationships with Ma¯ori. As
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a result, the participants expressed considerable cynicism about the translation of
these symbolic relationships into institutional practice.
So there’s an institutional narrative about Ma¯ ori that talks about the Treaty and
partnership. This university has a statute about the Treaty and there’s a lot of
‘soft’’ talk about partnership. I think that some managers think that
partnership just means being nice to Ma¯ori people and smiling at us when
we go past them in the corridor. I don’t think they have a sense that it means
changing anything structural about the institution itself. I don’t think they see
it in terms of changing institutional priorities, changing behaviours, changing
their employment practices. It’s kind of like if they smile at one Ma¯ori a day,
they’ve ticked the diversity box for the institution. (Ma¯ori academic).
Institutional policies that are not accompanied by structural change are perceived as
being highly tokenistic (Pilkington 2013). Frustrations ensue amongst minoritized/
ethnicized groups when universities develop elaborate narratives about diversity,
equity and cultural responsiveness without creating the conditions for these values
to be enacted. Several participants noted that they are frequently called upon to
serve cultural roles at university po¯ whiri or turn up when a Ma¯ ori voice is needed by
university managers. While this bolsters the institution’s public identity as a fair and
equitable employer, the participants commented that, in the main, Ma¯ ori staff
continue to be excluded from macro and meso-level decision-making and this
reinforces the marginalized and ethnicized positioning of many Ma¯ori scholars
within the university.
Opportunities and Transgressions at the Academic Margins
Recent work on the micro-politics of resistance within institutions throws light on
how marginalized institutional ‘actors’ exercise agency in their daily working lives.
Moss and Snow (2016) argue that in these contexts collective action may take place
directly, for example, through calls for structural change in institutional relation-
ships with subordinated/subaltern groups; through challenges to the normative
values and practices of institutional elites; or by appropriating and reconfiguring
elements of an organization to better suit the needs of institutional out-groups within
those structures (Moss and Snow 2016). At the same time, more covert micro-
resistances may also be mounted through various kinds of tacit non-compliance
(Snow 2004). Alternative forms of academic resistance frequently involve the
deployment of disciplinary knowledge and expertise to challenge the status quo both
within the institution and beyond. In her work on scholar-activism, Mendez (2008)
describes situations where ‘‘the researcher uses her position within the academy to
contribute to social justice struggles, while at the same time working to place at the
centre alternative voices and ways of knowing’’ (Mendez 2008, p. 138). This
approach was taken by many of the participants in this study.
The positioning of minoritized/ethnicized groups of scholars at the periphery of
the social organization of universities was a cause of considerable frustration and
resentment for the majority of participants who spoke at length about the impact of
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institutional racism on their own careers and those of their colleagues. However,
they were also well aware of the creative possibilities of operating in the academic
margins. As Smith (2015) suggests,
There are also researchers, scholars, and academics who actively choose the
margins, who choose to study people marginalized by society, who themselves
have come from the margins, or who see their intellectual purpose as being
scholars who will work for, with, and alongside communities who occupy the
margins of society. If one is interested in society, then it is often in the margins
that aspects of a society are revealed as microcosms of the larger picture as
examples of a society’s underbelly.’’ (Smith 2015, p. 358).
In this study, the participants were deeply committed to mobilizing their academic
expertise to create genuine and lasting change in Ma¯ori and Pacific communities. To
that end, they established sophisticated strategies for meeting the formal require-
ments of academic life in managerial universities, such as publishing their research,
carrying out teaching responsibilities, sitting on university committees, and
participating in PBRF, while maintaining strong primary commitments to
marginalized communities and groups outside the university with whom they had
shared affinities, connections and concerns.
So I could publish in a journal that a handful of white scholars will read and
forget about by the end of the day or I could go to [name of tribal area
removed] and talk to the wha¯nau there who are at their absolute wit’s end and
look at ways of sorting out the problems they’re dealing with. Or, I could
choose between getting into a polite debate with some earnest, tweedy,
corduroy-ed don over a glass of sherry and a vol-au-vent or I could duke it out
with the bloody stroppy kuias in the back blocks of [name of region removed]
and maybepossiblyhopefully make some sort of constructive change to
the lives of real peopleWho am I going to choose? Well, what do you
reckon? Seriously? I hate sherry! (Ma¯ ori academic).
Institutional identities that reside in the ‘‘cracks’’ and clefts of academic life pose
particular challenges for managers and administrative elites who work hard to create
unified and unifying organizational narratives. Operating within the margins can
also be a profoundly alienating experience for academics who, as a result
institutional racism and/or sexism, are positioned at a distance from the institutional
core but once in these spaces, academics can be remarkably creative in developing
transgressive identities that serve them and their communities well. As Ewick and
Silbey (1993) note, ‘‘[r]esistance, to the extent that it constitutes forms of
consciousness, ways of operating and making do, may prefigure more formidable
and strategic challenges to power. Through everyday practical engagements with
power, individuals identify the cracks and vulnerabilities of institutions’’ (p. 749).
Universities have become progressively more complex in neoliberal times and as
such the distance decay effect between institutional elites and scholars at the
margins is more readily observable. At the same time, relationships between distal
groups of academics and the organizational core are increasingly mediated by meso-
level ‘entrepreneurs’ willing to endorse and uphold whitestream neoliberal practices
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and institutional policies on behalf of senior leadership. Many Ma¯ ori scholars, as
well as other marginalized groups, have responded to these pressures by asserting
scholarly identities and affiliations that are not easily accessed, managed and
monitored by institutional elites and we contend that it is here that opportunities and
possibilities for creating genuine social change as well as mounting resistance to the
neoliberal ‘creep’ of managerialism into academic life is frequently asserted.
Acknowledgement This paper is based on a study funded by a grant from Nga¯ Pae o te Ma¯ramatanga,
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... Scholars opine that meeting the administratively scheduled targets thus becomes the priority (Lynch 2014;Seal 2018), as success in meeting targets is the focus of not only public audits, but also of the performance contracts that define the duties and responsibilities of the management corps. This, inevitably, leads to a situation where universities (and even groupings within universities) contend over resources, status and influence (Kidman & Chu 2017). ...
... Along with this shift, many academics feel that there is an innate distrust in the abilities of the individual academic to assess their own activities and to improve (Hodgins & Mannix-McMamara 2021;Lorenz 2012). In a sense, neoliberalism and managerialism represent a shift in focus from universities as a 'public good', towards universities as an economic investment for an educated community (Kidman & Chu 2017). Critics of the modern, neoliberal university pronounce that decision-making is no longer left up to faculty level units with a degree of intellectual and subject-related autonomy; it is now the domain of distanced, corporatised decision-making bodies (Kidman & Chu 2017). ...
... In a sense, neoliberalism and managerialism represent a shift in focus from universities as a 'public good', towards universities as an economic investment for an educated community (Kidman & Chu 2017). Critics of the modern, neoliberal university pronounce that decision-making is no longer left up to faculty level units with a degree of intellectual and subject-related autonomy; it is now the domain of distanced, corporatised decision-making bodies (Kidman & Chu 2017). This 'managerialist turn' is seen as flying in the face of the concept of academic freedom (Poutanen et al. 2020), a freedom academics feel very strongly about. ...
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The VUCA world which refers to ‘volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity’ forces higher education institutions (HEIs) to be aware and understand strategic drivers. Further knowledge of the interplay between strategic drivers, neoliberalism, and ‘public good’ can assist HEIs not to seize the notion of furthering the neoliberal agenda at all cost, but to strive for a more balanced outcome. This article attempts to explore how strategic drivers can act as a ‘reality check’ to ensure that HEIs serve the interests of the communities and that of society in general, and that higher education does not become a mechanism to serve the neoliberal agenda above all else. This is a conceptual article in which a reflective, dialectical approach was employed, extrapolating on a PhD study on strategic drivers for South African HEIs. Strategic drivers are confirmed as key forces the South African HEIs should reckon with and manage in pursuing the socio-economic agenda within the growing popularity of neoliberalism. Contribution: This study alerts South African HEIs and institutions internationally on using strategic drivers to transform in serving the socio-economic agenda and the ‘public good’ in the midst of the neoliberal.
... In Luisa's earlier account, 'Kiwis' were antagonists, but later she differentiated between 'Kiwi girls' and students who were 'Māori' or 'from … places like Samoa'. In contrast, Salomé distinguished between different groups of 'Kiwis', alluding to relationships of solidarity between New Zealanders from indigneous and new settler communities (Kidman and Chu 2017). References to 'whiteness' were implicit rather than explicit in Luisa and Salomé's accounts, but the powerful role of peers was explicit and striking. ...
... Luisa's classmates (and her sister's) policed the boundaries of the (English-speaking) nation, although Māori and Pacific classmates demonstrated solidarity through expressions of care and support. Luisa and Salomé pointed to forms of solidarity that can emerge between minoritised students in education settings (Kidman and Chu 2017). Sogand highlighted how teachers can foster unexpected forms of solidarity for refugee-background (and all) students, through curating shared, memorable learning activities where students also learn about each other (or create new stories) and develop a sense of cohort. ...
Schools play a crucial role in shaping resettled refugees’ sense of belonging and access to citizenship rights. Education is a pathway to social integration, civic participation, and meaningful employment. Teachers can be seen as ‘boundary workers’ who broker a sense of (un)welcome and (un)belonging, mediating the relationship between resettled refugees and the State, and building or disrupting trust. In this paper, we draw on findings from a participatory action research project conducted in southern New Zealand with refugee-background young people at the secondary-tertiary education border. We explore how 10 young people reflected on their secondary school experiences in relation to their sense of belonging and inclusion in school, and in New Zealand more broadly. We conclude by calling for recognition of the critical role teachers play in brokering belonging and ‘settlement’ for refugee-background young people both in and beyond school. We also call for resourcing and teacher professional development that reflects a commitment to supporting refugee-background young people’s pathways to better futures.
... Grant and McKinley (2011) noted that family and community responsibilities of Māori students are often underestimated or disregarded by non-Māori supervisors. However, research in New Zealand stresses the valuable role that family and community play in the academic success of Māori and Pacific students (Kidman & Chu, 2017;Thomsen et al., 2021). Specifically, Chu et al. (2013) state that "for Pacific people, learning is not confined to effective teaching strategies; successful learning sits on the pillars of the family, the community, cultural capital, collaborative relationships and institutional support" (p. ...
... Specifically, an additional 1,185 Indigenous academic staff would need to have been employed to attain population parity of 3.1 per cent between Indigenous and non-Indigenous academic staff (Universities Australia, 2020). This is relevant to international research which elucidates the point that institutional rhetoric of diversity and inclusion does not necessarily result in a diverse or inclusive environment (Kidman & Chu, 2017;McAllister, 2019). In identifying this as "institutional speech acts", Ahmed (2012) claims that institutions can be attributed certain qualities simply as a result of value or commitment statements made by an individual on behalf of the institution. ...
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Growing research into the experiences of non-Indigenous early career researchers (ECRs) has identified a multitude of challenges that can impede early research career development. Expectations to publish, secure research grants and to deliver large teaching loads contribute to high levels of frustration and stress. While additional challenges - often associated with cultural work - have emerged in the literature with Australian and international Indigenous academics, research focused specifically on Indigenous Australian early career researchers is severely lacking. This paper begins with an examination of the Australian Indigenous pipeline to early career positions through undergraduate and postgraduate study. It reviews the trajectories of non-Indigenous early career researchers and then draws on emerging research with Indigenous academics in Australia and abroad to advocate specific investigation of the career trajectories of Indigenous Australian early career researchers. In accordance with a commitment from Australian universities to increase the number of Indigenous students and scholars, it is critical that experiences and needs of Indigenous early career researchers are investigated and understood. With a deeper level of understanding more effective strategies and systems can be implemented to better support and facilitate career trajectories of Indigenous Australian early career researchers and thus build a richer academy.
... In brief, influenced by notions of neoliberalism, new public management, and managerialism, the traditional state and professional logics have been weakened, and public universities in many countries have become neoliberal universities (Herschberg et al., 2018;Kidman & Chu, 2017;Lynch, 2015;Rothe et al., 2022), hybrid organizations (Grossi et al., 2020), dominated by performativity (Wilson & Holligan, 2013), and an audit culture (Burrows, 2012;Grossi et al., 2020). For example, based on interviews of academics in six English universities of different types, Taberner (2018) finds that neoliberal universities prioritize efficiency and quantity over effectiveness, stress managerialist ideology over academic autonomy, and emphasize instrumentalism over intellectualism, leading to the de-professionalization and work intensification of academics. ...
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Over the past several decades, Chinese universities have introduced various Western-style human resource management (HRM) practices to improve organizational performance. Such HRM innovations have resulted in new employment relations and paradoxical HR practices, which cannot be explained by the unitary institutional logic assumed by conventional HRM theories. Based on in-depth interviews of academic and administrative members, this study examines how Chinese universities struggle to reconcile competing institutional logics through HR innovations for ambidexterity. Our research reveals a unique transformation trajectory of personnel management in Chinese public universities. The findings indicate that human resource management in Chinese universities has been influenced by multiple logics of socialism, market, and corporation, heading along the neoliberal and managerial route while being shaped by strong state regulations. Chinese universities still have a long way to go to reconcile multiple institutional logics and achieve ambidexterity.
... "I don't want to offend Māori" translated as, "I don't want to look ignorant so it's easier not to try". While a focus on vowel sounds seems incredibly simplistic (but trust me, getting your vowels correct is the secret), the real intention of the workshops is to scratch below the surface of the whitestream (Kidman & Chu, 2017) and do the hard work of talking through the fragility, of engaging with things Māori in HE. ...
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Coloniality in Aotearoa’s education systems has persisted by forcing Māori to assimilate into Western norms, tracking Māori into subordinate occupational roles, and constraining Māori self-determination. Through use of storytelling, we demonstrate how these trends carry on in present-day tertiary education settings. We also issue to colleagues and management in the tertiary education sector a wero (challenge) to inspect dimensions of white fragility. Our wero challenges colleagues to move beyond their pedagogical comfort zones by learning and incorporating Indigenous knowledges into their teaching beyond surface level. For university management, our wero call on leadership to lead institutional conversations on white privileges and white fragilities, such that academic staff cannot perform a white agility by nimbly dancing around decolonial education initiatives.
... Recording the storms that Pacific women have faced in Aotearoa New Zealand universities means we now understand that Pacific women experience a masculine imprint that rewards masculine behaviours (Alvesson, 2012) and perform excessive labour which is dictated by gender norms that is neither recognised nor rewarded by universities (Acker, 2012(Acker, , 2014Fisher, 2007). The other storm that Pacific women experience is the structural whiteness that is embedded in universities (Ahmed, 2012(Ahmed, , 2016Antonio, 2002;Grosfoguel, 2012Grosfoguel, , 2013Kidman, 2020;Kidman & Chu, 2017Kidman, Chu, Fernandez, & Abella, 2015). At the intersection of the masculine imprint and embedded structural whiteness is where Pacific women face a cyclone of institutional habits (Ahmed, 2012) that slow our progress. ...
... Despite national and institutional policies that require New Zealand universities to include Indigenous knowledge, such as mātauranga Māori and Pacific knowledge systems, science faculties have been slow and reluctant to value knowledge (re)produced outside of colonial norms (Mutu 2014;Waiari et al. 2021). There is increasing evidence that, as individuals, Māori and Pacific people experience marginalisation, racism, and exclusion in universities (Kidman and Chu 2017;Kidman 2020;Haar and Martin 2021;Ruru and Nikora 2021). This can lead to them being compelled to exit the sector. ...
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The experiences of Māori and Pacific postgraduate students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) offer insights into how universities, particularly science faculties, currently underserve Māori and Pacific people. This article shares the experiences of 43 current or past postgraduate students at New Zealand universities. Collectively, our stories offer insight into how representation, the white imprint, space invaders/stranger making, and institutional habits, specifically operate to exclude and devalue Māori and Pacific postgraduates in STEM. We provide new understandings of the white imprint (rewarding and incentivising white behaviour), where Māori and Pacific postgraduates were prevented from being their authentic selves. Importantly, this research documents how Māori and Pacific postgraduates experience excess labour because of institutional habits. This research also provides insight into how the science funding system results in superficial and unethical inclusion of Māori and Pacific postgraduates. Our stories provide persuasive evidence that the under-representation of Māori and Pacific in STEM will not be addressed by simply bolstering university enrolments. Instead, our stories highlight the urgent requirement for universities to change the STEM learning environment which continues to be violent and culturally unsafe for Māori and Pacific postgraduates.
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Chapter Ten. On the non-performativity of 'being-well': A critique of wellbeing in university policy e concept of wellbeing is becoming increasingly visible within institutional policies, including universities. University wellbeing policies, broadly speaking, aim to respond to issues such as occupational/ personal health, safety, and 'social-emotional' welfare. Bringing together Sara Ahmed's critique of 'diversity' as an institutional policy with her critique of 'the promise of happiness' , we argue that wellbeing masks rather than challenges structural inequality. We summarize ve cases of women of colour who, due to racial and gender inequality , could not 'be well' in the university. We demonstrate how two university wellbeing policies centre individual responsibility over structural reforms that address power imbalances , and compliance over complaint in ways that sti e dissent among women of colour who are negatively impacted by the non-performativity of university wellbeing policies.
This essay offers reflective learning on how researchers in the Western science tradition connect to bodies of knowledge created and held outside that tradition. It begins with endogenous growth theory, which explains the unique role of knowledge as an input into economic production. The essay describes how Western science addresses the problem of validating and accessing knowledge, by hosting an expanding corpus of peer-reviewed publications. This academic knowledge does not contain all current knowledge. The essay therefore draws on the authors’ experience in four large research programmes to consider business knowledge and mātauranga Māori. It reflects on agency, tikanga [right behaviour], global conversations about Indigenous knowledge, and decolonising research. The essay finishes with models of knowledge engagement in the interface between western Science and mātauranga Māori that support the mana and integrity of diverse knowledge streams.
For Pacific early career academics (PECA) in Aotearoa, there is a tension between the Indigenous knowledges inherited from our Pacific ancestors and those we have been taught within the western education system. As Pacific educators teaching an increasingly Pacific student-body, we have sought to define our own spaces within the lecture theatre where we can prioritize our knowledges and counter standard didactic western pedagogical practices. This paper is a collaboration from six PECA who use as a framework of analysis Andreotti et al.’s [Andreotti, Vanessa de Oliveira, Sharon Stein, Cash Ahenakew, and Hunt. Dallas. 2015. “Mapping Interpretations of Decolonization in the Context of Higher Education.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 4 (1): 21–40.] Cartography of Decolonization to discuss their decolonizing pedagogies. It will explore the successes and challenges faced in making this pedagogical shift, including stories from PECA who have struggled due to disciplinary concepts of what constitutes ‘knowledge’. It involves critical reflection on pedagogical praxis, asking throughout what can be considered decolonizing and whether it is indeed possible within the system of higher education in Aotearoa.
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The analysis and theorization of social movements is central to understanding social life, state-society relations, and social change, and comprises one of the most vibrant areas of sociological research today. Theories of collective action and mobilization typically aim to understand the factors and conditions producing organized collective action dedicated to fostering or resisting change across time and place, as well as the consequences of those challenges. In light of our conceptualization of social movements as collectivities that seek to challenge or defend existing institutional and/or cultural systems of authority and their associated practices, we provide an overview of dominant paradigms used to conceptualize and theorize the emergence, dynamics, and outcomes of social movements. We then conclude by drawing on recent innovations in the field to suggest ways that scholars can refine, elaborate, and expand the existing theoretical repertoire.
This chapter provides a brief context for the early childhood curriculum Te Whāriki. He whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa, which set in place the expectation of a radically different notion of curriculum, in its non-prescriptive philosophical, socio-cultural, holistic, and bicultural nature. Not the least of these challenges was the delivery of a curriculum inclusive of the Māori culture and language by a predominately non-Māori teacher workforce. The promulgation of Te Whāriki provoked the need for articulation of applied pedagogies in support of its bicultural expectations. A range of Ministry of Education documents that were subsequently promulgated, aimed at enhancing the delivery of the bicultural curriculum are overviewed. Acknowledgment is made that the aspirations of Te Whāriki are still in the process of becoming.
We theorize the problems of social order that are created by nested-group structures. Almost universally, people interact in local groups that are nested in larger more removed or distant groups. These structures often generate fragmented, balkanized social orders in part because people tend to develop stronger ties and commitments to local (proximal) groups where they interact with others. A key reason is that positive emotions from those local interactions tend to be associated with or attributed to local, immediate groups, which leads to stronger affective ties to and cohesion in the local group often at the expense of ties to the larger group. This paper elaborates and extends select micro-sociological theories that identify foundations of these problems of social order and indicate how larger, more removed social units (communities, corporations, nations) may mitigate problems of fragmentation and balkanization by promoting mutually-supportive or stronger affective ties to the larger, distal group. In the process, we show how properties of social interactions create the nested-group problem, but also contain “seeds” of stable, resilient social orders across micro and macro levels.
The study of institutions is central to the study of sociology. In this essay, a case is made for a macrosociology that conceptualizes institutional spheres as the structural and cultural milieus in which all lower levels of social reality, like individual, collective, and clusters of collective actors, are embedded. Spheres like religion or law vary in terms of their degree of physical, temporal, and social differentiation vis-à-vis all other institutional spheres, as well as, the degree to which they are symbolically distinct and, therefore, autonomous spheres of social reality and action. When viewed through an evolutionary and ecological perspective, institutional spheres lose the static nature found in functionalist accounts. Instead a recursive link between actors and environment is posited, highlighting the role the macro-level plays in shaping our everyday lives and social reality.