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Showing posts from August, 2011

Stefan Collini, 'From Robbins to McKinsey' article in LRB

Link here to Stefan Collini's article in the LRB, on how the late 20thc culture of managerialism has infiltrated government policy on university funding (and universities themselves).

I especially like this critique of the term 'student experience', which he defines as:
... part of the individualist subjectivism by means of which market transactions hollow out human relations. The model is that of, say, a hotel guest, filling in the feedback questionnaire on the morning of departure. Was ‘the guest experience’ a good one? Did you find the fluffy towels fluffy enough? 
Collini argues that:
... the model of the student as consumer is inimical to the purposes of education. ... The paradox of real learning is that you don’t get what you ‘want’ – and you certainly can’t buy it. The really vital aspects of the experience of studying something (a condition very different from ‘the student experience’) are bafflement and effort. Hacking your way through the jungle of unin…

trade union and legal history

I'm currently working my way through some monographs and articles on nineteenth century trade unions and the law. The main theme that is coming through is that trade unions and labour combinations were able to develop much more sophisticated and prolonged forms of resistance from the time of the Combination Acts of 1799-1800, through their semi-repeal in 1825, and during the difficult conflicts of the 1840s. This is resistance using the tools of the law, both against employers in the courts, and by looking to parliament for legislative support.

Christopher Frank's new book, Master and Servant Law, powerfully explains in much detail how the most successful tools trade unions had were not physical acts of protest, but legal knowledge and clever lawyers. He focuses on the Chartist solicitor William P Roberts, who defended hundreds of unionists prosecuted under the Master and Servant law for breaking their contract. He shows how Roberts and the unionists were able to succeed becau…

Riots, the Guardian, History & Policy

I'm not going to say much about what happened this week, but rather use this post to correct a couple of media things I've already done.

Here's an article in the Guardian by Aditya Chakrabortty.
I had a long chat with Aditya, but of course he's only used one quotation. Then, oddly, the paragraph was edited later in the day and now has a sentence about Swing. NB I did not talk about Swing, nor call them 'peasants'. We're not going back to a basic Marxist interpretation; indeed the masses of new research on Captain Swing has shown the riots of 1830-1 were not a straight-forward case of class conflict, but involved a varied range of people and grievances.


I've done a short opinion piece for History & Policy which you can read here.
Again, it's somewhat shorter than I'd like it to be, but essentially distinguishes the looting of the current week from more politically-minded riots.