Higher education as a gift and as a commons

Wittel, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-4680-6670, 2018. Higher education as a gift and as a commons. tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique, 16 (1), pp. 194-213. ISSN 1726-670X

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This paper takes as a starting point Lewis Hyde’s (2007, xvi) assertion that art is a gift and not a commodity: “Works of art exist simultaneously in two ‘economies’, a market economy and a gift economy. Only one of these is essential, however: a work of art can survive without a market, but where there is no gift there is no art.” I want to argue that the same claim should be made for those aspects of academic labour that refer to teaching and education. Education can survive without a market, but where there is no gift there is no education. However the gift that is part of all educational processes gets rather obscured in regimes where higher education is either a public good or a private good. In regimes of higher education as public good the gift gets obscured by the provision of a service by the state. In regimes of higher education as a private good (e.g. higher education in the UK) the gift gets even more obscured, obviously so. It is only in a third educational regime, where education is a common good (e.g. the recent rise of the free universities), that the gift character of education can properly shine. Whilst this should be celebrated, the notion of a higher education commons poses some severe challenges. The paper ends with an examination of possibilities of academic activists to rescue or even strengthen the gift-like character of education.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique
Creators: Wittel, A.
Publisher: University of Westminster
Date: 2018
Volume: 16
Number: 1
ISSN: 1726-670X
Rights: CC-BY-NC-ND: Creative Commons License, 2018.
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 17 Apr 2018 14:35
Last Modified: 03 May 2018 14:10
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/33267

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