The New Spirit of Academic Capitalism: A Sociological View on the Unintended Consequences of Ratings, Rankings and Scientometric Indicators

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 08:30
Oral Presentation
Alexander LENGER, University of Siegen, Germany
The presentation will outline the major findings on the consequences the new public management and academic capitalism has on knowledge production in capitalistic societies. Starting with the observation that society faces a “new spirit of capitalism” (Boltanski/Chiapello) the specific consequences of the emergence of “academic capitalism” (Slaughter/Rhoades) and the implementation of a “new public management” (Horton) in German universities are analyzed. To catch the process of economization and marketization thirty biographical interviews with German professors from various subjects have been conducted to reveal the underlying processes of academic lifestyles and knowledge production. In particular, the intended and unintended consequences of ratings, rankings, and scientometric indicators on the academic profession will be analyzed.

The interviews show that a significant personality shift within the academic profession takes place giving rise to professors with an entrepreneurial spirit and managerial skills. Moreover, the findings reveal a structural change in the illusio of the field away from an intrinsic driven motivation to produce knowledge and innovations into science as an ordinary career path. The findings highlight the long term issues that arise if sciences are transformed in accordance with new public management, output orientation, acceleration and the measurement of research grants, journal publications using scientometric indicators. In short I demonstrate a transformation of the academic habitus aligned on the innovative production on knowledge into a managerial habitus aligned on the successful positioning in the academic field and therefore strategically interested in the reproduction of existing knowledge. The talk is devoted to the analysis of the social dimension of science-metrics and the unintended consequences for the academic profession.