On the Alienation of Academic Labour and the Possibilities for Mass Intellectuality

  • Richard Hall De Montfort University
Keywords: Academic Labour, Alienation, Higher Education, Mass Intellectuality, Proletarianisation


As one response to the secular crisis of capitalism, higher education is being proletarianised. Its academics and students, increasingly encumbered by precarious employment, debt, and new levels of performance management, are shorn of autonomy beyond the sale of their labour-power. Incrementally, the labour of those academics and students is subsumed and re-engineered for value production, and is prey to the twin processes of financialisation and marketisation. At the core of understanding the impact of these processes and their relationships to the reproduction of higher education is the alienated labour of the academic. The article examines the role of alienated labour in academic work in its relationship to the proletarianisation of the University, and relates this to feelings of hopelessness, in order to ask what might be done differently. The argument centres on the role of mass intellectuality, or socially-useful knowledge and knowing, as a potential moment for overcoming alienated labour.

Author Biography

Richard Hall, De Montfort University

Richard Hall is Professor of Education and Technology at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. At DMU he is Co-Director of the Institute for Education Futures. Richard is a UK National Teaching Fellow, a co-operator at the Social Science Centre in Lincoln, UK, and a Trustee of the Open Library of Humanities. He writes about life in higher education at: http://richard-hall.org.

Academic Labour, Digital Media and Capitalism