Weekly reading 51.2017

Tony Becher, Paul Trowler

Academic Tribes And Territories

ISBN: 9780335206278

The note

The structure of the subject

During the second part of the 20th century the process of massification of the higher education started. For a bit more than 10 years (between late 1980s and late 1990s) the percentage of the people that were studying increased from 15% to 30%. In the USA the similar increase appeared in mid-1960s. However here it was a move from mass system to universal.

There was also a 45% increase of the expenditure for 20 years (form mid-1970s to mid-1990s). Although, the salaries was not increased substantially and there were not many new vacancies. There was also an increase of the private funding of the HE sector.

The triple helix

  • knowledge is produced in the context of application
  • transdisciplinary is norm
  • heterogeneity and organizational diversity are common
  • there is enhanced social accountability
  • there is a system of quality control


  • strengthening steering from the university’s core
  • expanding the departmental periphery
  • diversifying the funding base
  • stimulating the academic heartland
  • developing an integrated entrepreneurial culture

The knowledge is under the process of marketizing. The system is deregulated and the area of operation of the universities is shared by private higher education institutions and industry. Students, government and industry act as a customer the want to buy the product. The levels of rivalry between universities are strongly increased. Chasing the dollar is really important part of academic life what can be the starting point of new, more sophisticated and well-managed organizations the help academic to manage funds and do most of the administration.

Knowledge is being served in modules.

There is an emphasis on top management to introduce corporate-like environment and practices that can change cultures and structures. Mechanisms of audit prevent the system from exploitation and help to better manage funds and opportunities.

The process of knowledge fragmentation of sub-disciplines is well-established. The number of faculties and chairs could tell us more about this. Moreover the number of journals and HE courses is the visible sign of the change.

Typical HE system comprise four tiers:

  1. the central authorities
  2. individual institutions
  3. basic units
  4. individuals

There are three frameworks that change and shape academic behaviour, organizational, cognitive and social.

Traditional forms of knowledge generation are changed to collective, applied transdisciplinary developments that take place very often outside academia.

Cultures – sets of taken-for-granted values, attitudes, ways of behaving that are articulated by recurrent practices by a group of people in given context. The ways of how a group of academics organise their work and tasks on which they are engaged.

Epistemological issues

There are different taxonomies of the structure of knowledge. Scientific progress is the process that involves close agreement on theories, methodologies of inquiry and the training of newcomers.

HARD SOFT (the degree of which the paradigm exist) PURE APPLIED (the level of application)

There is also an artistic division of the academic field.

The policy makers can re-shape the practices and influence the changes (f. e. mathematization of the economics). RAE pushed to the collaborative work.

It is not easy to mark the boundaries and demarcation lines between hard/soft/pure/applied knowledge domains.

It is possible to establish new disciplines, which often emerge from their parent disciplines when it is possible to find professional association, journals and the departments in the structure of the universities.

The science is international, it can easley cross the country borders.

There are subcultures in cultures.

Every discipline has its own logical syntax, sentence structures, jargon, communities, heroes, memorable events and favourite terms.

People can change when the there is a major influence of their colleagues. Students during their years in academia become similar to their supervisors and teachers.

The division of labour or a difference in conceptual framework are the things that demarcate two different disciplines. However, there are poachers that can go to the land of different discipline and try to poach something.