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‘The enemy from within’: tracing the development of neoliberal ideas within Croatian academia

Doolan, Karin; Žitko, Mislav; Dolenec, Danijela
‘The enemy from within’: tracing the development of neoliberal ideas within Croatian academia // Consortium of Higher Education Researchers Conference (CHER)
Cambridge, Engleska, 2016. (predavanje, međunarodna recenzija, sažetak, znanstveni)

‘The enemy from within’: tracing the development of neoliberal ideas within Croatian academia

Doolan, Karin ; Žitko, Mislav ; Dolenec, Danijela

Vrsta, podvrsta i kategorija rada
Sažeci sa skupova, sažetak, znanstveni

Consortium of Higher Education Researchers Conference (CHER)

Mjesto i datum
Cambridge, Engleska, 5-7.09.2016

Vrsta sudjelovanja

Vrsta recenzije
Međunarodna recenzija

Ključne riječi
Academic field; neoliberalism; Croatia; disciplinary histories

The introduction to the CHER 29th Annual Conference suggests that the academic and political fields are interrelated in a hierarchical manner. It implies that in our contemporary society the academic field is being shaped by external forces (‘top-down pressures’) in a way that calls into question the university as a critical institution. This reflects a broader literature portraying the academic field as a ‘victim’ of the ‘neoliberal state’ and ‘neoliberal multilateral agencies’ (cf. Giroux, 2013 ; Lynch, 2013). Conversely, this paper challenges the external-internal dichotomy of university change by interpreting the relationship between the university, the state and market as one of ‘reciprocal legitimation’ (Weiler 2009, 2011): although market driven and state supported pressures on the academic field undoubtedly exist, it is seldom noted that these rely on the knowledge and expertise provided by the academic field itself. In other words, we argue that the contemporary process of university change is dependent on a synergy of internal (‘the “enemy” from within’) and external forces striving to create a university embodying neoliberal reason (Brown 2015). In this regard, we contend that any assessment of external pressures on universities be accompanied by acknowledgement of the multiplicity of ideological positions and projects within universities themselves. We take an intellectual and social history approach in order to examine how the academic field in Croatia has contributed to the neoliberal framework it finds itself in today. Put differently, we trace the development of theories, justifications and explanations within the academic field to show how this internal knowledge production has corresponded to the economic and political imperatives put forward by non-academic actors during Croatia’s transition period. Our analysis has two main parts. We examine scientific production in the main sociology and economics journals in Croatia from the early 1980s until the early 2000s and we analyse university curricula in these academic disciplines during this time frame, noting in both cases the quantitative presence and qualitative construction of neoliberal ideas and how they are nested within the discourse on modernization and ‘catching up’ with the West. Complemented by interview material with social scientists active during the observed period, this material allows us to make empirically informed claims about the historical trajectory of sociology and economics in Croatia over two decades, with a focus on how they have legitimated as well as critiqued the dominant political and economic order. It also enables us to discuss the internal-external dynamic that underpins contemporary discussions of university change. Theoretically, our paper combines Bourdieu’s work on the intellectual field (e.g. Homo Academicus, 1988) with Foucault’s genealogical approach to the analysis of discourse (e.g. Archaeology of Knowledge, 1969).

Izvorni jezik

Znanstvena područja
Politologija, Sociologija


Institut za društvena istraživanja , Zagreb,
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