Graduation Year

2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Adult, Career, and Higher Education

Major Professor

Michael Mills, Ph.D.

Keywords

Higher education, Florida, Commodification, Globalization, Faculty work

Abstract

This study explores how faculty in the social sciences experience and respond to academic capitalism. Academic capitalism is about market and market-like activity at the university and professorial efforts to secure external money. This research expands existing literature which has focused on the hard or natural sciences, and other areas more closely aligned with the market. Thirty-seven qualitative research interviews were conducted between March and July of 2006 with professors of sociology, criminology, economics at the University of Florida, Florida State University, and the University of South Florida. Results reveal academic capitalism in the social sciences is mostly about grant activity and involves essentially no technology transfer or patenting. Further, that grant activity is somewhat sporadic, still of marginal concern, and more important to junior faculty than for tenured and senior faculty. Findings also suggest academic capitalism in the social sciences is about a market of ideas, based on the value of positive social change and quality research, rather than economic yield. Despite their small contribution to the university bottom-line, professors in the social sciences find value in what they do. The theoretical component of the study proposed institutionalism and resource dependence theory as useful frameworks for viewing academic capitalism. The findings confirm the usefulness of institutionalism and resource dependence theory, but also add notions of globalization. Academic capitalism is about gaining legitimacy (institutionalism), responding to external constituencies to enhance revenue flows and buffer the institution from resource reductions (resource dependence), and the influence of such larger trends as commodification in the global marketplace (globalization).

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