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Between marketisation, regulation and resistance: feminist and gender knowledge production in English universities

Schwoerer, Lili (2022) Between marketisation, regulation and resistance: feminist and gender knowledge production in English universities. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004469


This thesis investigates how marketisation and internationalisation in English Higher Education shape and reshape gender and feminist knowledge production. Feminist and gender knowledge production finds itself in an ambiguous position in English universities: simultaneously held up as progressive, inclusive and ‘global’ yet threatened by ongoing funding cuts and restructurings, by border controls and Prevent policies. To explore these tensions, I propose a theoretical approach to the marketisation and internationalisation of Higher Education that accounts for the production and regulation of difference at the intersection between political economy and epistemology. I present data from interviews with academics working on gender, feminism and queer studies, supplemented with analyses of public and internal-facing university documents and archival research. Situating contemporary feminist and gender knowledge practices within the history of universities demonstrates that there are longstanding interactions between the political economy of universities and the regulation of difference. I argue that the way in which feminist and gender knowledge production is shaped by marketisation and internationalisation follows a logic of recognition, representation and regulation which combines a selective inclusion of difference with the disavowal of ongoing racialised and gendered violences. I show that this logic selectively rewards some forms of feminist and gender knowledge and even, at times, those who produce it. Rewards are often symbolic and only accorded in line with market logics, creating structural barriers that mean those who are already marginalised are increasingly less likely to be able to produce feminist and gender knowledge. Harking back to a pre-neoliberal university or a ‘purer’ feminism does little to displace the structural violence of both. Drawing on abolitionist feminism, I make the case for a feminist imagination against and beyond the university, which uses the tools of feminist epistemology to think and act from its material location in relation to universities and state.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2022 Lili Schwoerer
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Sets: Departments > Sociology
Supervisor: Ali, Suki

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