Academic Capitalism and the New Economy: Markets, State, and Higher Education

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As colleges and universities become more entrepreneurial in a post-industrial economy, they focus on knowledge less as a public good than as a commodity to be capitalized on in profit-oriented activities. In Academic Capitalism and the New Economy, higher education scholars Sheila Slaughter and Gary Rhoades detail the aggressive engagement of U.S. higher education institutions in the knowledge-based economy and analyze the efforts of colleges and universities to develop, market, and sell research products, educational services, and consumer goods in the private marketplace.

Slaughter and Rhoades track changes in policy and practice, revealing new social networks and circuits of knowledge creation and dissemination, as well as new organizational structures and expanded managerial capacity to link higher education institutions and markets. They depict an ascendant academic capitalist knowledge/learning regime expressed in faculty work, departmental activity, and administrative behavior. Clarifying the regime's internal contradictions, they note the public subsidies embedded in new revenue streams and the shift in emphasis from serving student customers to leveraging resources from them.

Defining the terms of academic capitalism in the new economy, this groundbreaking study offers essential insights into the trajectory of American higher education.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews


Unlike other recent popular works,... this one is not critical or afraid of intersections of higher education and the world of corporate sponsorships; the authors just want to help universities exploit these new opportunities for fun and profit.

Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies
Provides a densely detailed and chilling description of the current 'state' of the university in the United States.

— Alison Hearn

Connection - Sharon Singleton

Painstakingly researched... Sheila Slaughter and Gary Rhoades warn of increasingly blurred boundaries among higher education, the state and the world of commerce.

Community College Week - Charles Pekow

The writers have made careers out of studying the issues they write about. They certainly have done their homework.

Academe - Roger W. Bowen

Slaughter and Rhoades offer the most coherent account of how the academy is mired in commercialism.

Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies - Alison Hearn

Provides a densely detailed and chilling description of the current 'state' of the university in the United States.

Educational Foundations - Huey-li Li

Represents a timely scholarly work that unveils the complex development of academic capitalism and calls for a critical re-examination of the mission of higher education institutions.

Teachers College Record - Leonard J. Waks

An impressive book and a major contribution to knowledge... The theory of academic capitalism presented in its pages will certainly stimulate and guide further studies in higher education for some time to come... All students of the educational arrangements in the new economy will find themselves in debt to the authors for their farreaching theory of academic capitalism, the wide variety of studies they offer to confirm it, and for the standard they set and the model they provide for subsequent work.

Contemporary Sociology - Edward P. St. John

The strength of this volume is their treatment of the impact of academic capitalism on academic work.

Review of Higher Education - Susan Talburt

This carefully argued and documented book fosters critical understanding of, if not the possibilities for 'regime change,' the implications of our actions.

Journal of Higher Education - Adrianna Kezar

Perhaps the best book for understanding the commercialization and commodification within higher education is Slaughter and Rhoades's Academic Capitalism and the New Economy... It tracks the deep and pervasive changes in policy and practice that have created new social network and organizational structures, vastly changing the function and role of higher education to serve corporate interests... and covers a variety of topics including expansion of patenting and patent policies, copyright policies, ownership of courseware and teaching materials, entrepreneurial activities by departments, corporate connections of university trustees, and advertising and branding contracts.

Journal of Higher Education - Irwin Feller

An important and much needed critical perspective.


Unlike other recent popular works,... this one is not critical or afraid of intersections of higher education and the world of corporate sponsorships; the authors just want to help universities exploit these new opportunities for fun and profit.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801892332
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 6/23/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,492,266
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Sheila Slaughter is a professor of higher education at the University of Georgia and coauthor, with Larry L. Leslie, of Academic Capitalism: Politics, Policies, and the Entrepreneurial University, also published by Johns Hopkins. Gary Rhoades is director of the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Arizona and general secretary of the American Association of University Professors.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 The theory of academic capitalism 1
Ch. 2 The policy climate for academic capitalism 35
Ch. 3 Patent policies : legislative change and commercial expansion 69
Ch. 4 Patent policies play out : student and faculty life 108
Ch. 5 Copyright : institutional policies and practices 131
Ch. 6 Copyrights play out : commodifying the core academic function 157
Ch. 7 Academic capitalism at the department level 181
Ch. 8 Administrative academic capitalism 207
Ch. 9 Networks of power : boards of trustees and presidents 233
Ch. 10 Sports 'R' us : contracts, trademarks, and logos 256
Ch. 11 Undergraduate students and educational markets 279
Ch. 12 The academic capitalist knowledge/learning regime 305
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