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Academic Capitalism Essay

3362 words - 13 pages

“You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.” (Obama, 2012) How does this quotation relate to the increase of capitalism in the education institution? It has to do with the mentality of what people believe they are entitled to which is for the most part, a libertarian perspective. Libertarianism promotes equality of rights and a free market economy; however, there is a bias in favour for people who happen to have the benefits of arbitrary factors such as a good education or the benefit of coming from an affluent family. Philosopher John Rawls argues, “The natural distribution is neither just nor unjust; nor is it unjust that persons are born into society at some particular position. These are simply natural facts. What is just and unjust is the way that institutions deal with these facts.” (Rawls, 1999: 87) This is contingent on how society decides who gets a higher education as “family income, parental education, and factors such as aspirations and preparation for a post-secondary education are all significant determinants of who goes to post-secondary education.”(Finnie, Mueller, Sweetman, Usher, 2010) This creates a hierarchy of the academic elite. The rise of tuition fees along with credential inflation, contributes to the need to obtain some form of post-secondary schooling, which results in the massification of higher education. Consequently, the switch from an industrial economy to a knowledge economy requires a shift in the political economy from public to private education as universities must compete in student markets. This affects the academic culture, for example, some Latin American universities are experiencing a shift from “a collectivist orientation to ideals associated with individualism.” (Rhoads & Torres, 2006: 10) The rising enrolment rate correlates with the quality of schooling, or as George Ritzer termed it, “McDonaldization of society.”(Ritzer, 1998) Clearly, the increase of the capitalist ideology in the education institution has led to economic disparity seen in the rising tuition fees, a credential inflation because of the massification of higher education, and an increase in academic dishonesty as a result of competing with the increased enrolment.

The switch between an industrial economy to our present-day knowledge economy has been brought about by the massification of higher education participation. As a result of this massification, a bachelor's degree can no longer earn the same kind of job as it could a few decades ago. The difference is seen even more strongly with high school diplomas, as “at the turn of the 19th century, when high school degrees were held by less than 10% of the population, they were badges of middle class respectability and until...

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