Friday, February 28, 2014

The overlooked economic value of art history degree

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today, an opinion piece written by a current UW-Madison junior, Kelsey Mullane, directly relevant to our "academic capitalism" discussions today:

This perception of degree value is the product of increased criticism of the humanities following the economic recession. This criticism uses numeric data, such as starting salaries and post-graduation unemployment rates, to support the erroneous notion that the humanities teach impractical skills that hold little or no value in the current job market, thereby discouraging their study. 
As a student majoring in art history, one of the most ridiculed disciplines within the humanities, I confront this skewed perception of degree value on a regular basis. When I introduce myself as an art history major, most of my peers make distasteful jokes about how I will "never have a job" or assume that I seek to become a trophy wife. 
At first, I took offense at those types of comments. However, I now realize that those who question the worth of my degree do not realize that art history programs provide students with a wide range of skills that appeal to potential employers.
Read the rest of the article here and tell us what you think!

American Regimes of Science Organization in the 20th Century (image)

Might be useful for our discussion today to have this handy image from Mirowski & Sent (2008) on the blog!  (Click to enlarge.)

Science, capitalism, and the rise of the “knowledge worker”: The changing structure of knowledge production in the United States (Kleinman & Vallas,2001)

In their 2001 article published in Theory in Society, Kleinman and Vallas argue it’s time to refocus our concerns over the influence of industry on academic institutions. They say the conventional concern that an increasing commercialization of academic institutions is threatening autonomy of scientific researchers distracts us from more central problems raised by the blurring boundaries between industry and academic institutions.
They say convergence of norms is occurring whereby both industry and universities are influencing the codes and the practices of the other and that it is the change of these norms that is at the heart of the problem. The convergence is asymmetrical, with industrial norms having a greater impact on universities and resulting in new disparities in workforces and in the production of knowledge. They build their argument first by debunking myths about academic research and describing the normative changes occurring in academia. They also discuss what they argue is an overoptimistic view of recent changes in industry, consequences of the convergence, apparent contradictions characteristic of the convergence and finally how we should respond.

Myths about research in academia:
Kleinman and Vallas say corporate investment is not a novel threat to disinterested science, autonomous research or a novel obstruction to the free flow of ideas among researchers. Instead they say the idea that science is disinterested and that academic researchers have ever enjoyed complete autonomy is a romantic myth. They say “science is always interested” with non-technical considerations continually coming into play. Similarly, they say there are few instances in which academic faculty autonomy in research has high. And in the university, the free flow of ideas can be impeded by inter-lab competition, the reluctance on the part of researchers to voice unpopular ideas in fear of alienation and group affiliation. They say what is really threatened by academic relationships with industry is the myth of disinterested science.

Academic adoption of industrial norms & consequences:
Kleinman and Vallas describe four ways in which industrial norms are emerging in the university setting. First, administrators increasingly tend to treat departments like profit centers and invest in each accordingly. As a consequence, support for research with uncertain economic rewards in the market is dwindling. Second, more contingent forms of employment are being adopted, resulting in more adjuncts, contracts or part-time instructors. Third, more proprietary thinking ways of thinking have emerged, with universities becoming more concerned with patents. Finally, work performance assessments are becoming more quantitative, with appraisals increasingly based on things like number of publications and revenue generated. In response, researchers may be producing shorter and more fragmented studies.

The industrial fairytale
The romanticized story of change in industry, paints a picture of a more egalitarian present compared to a more hierarchical past, providing a greater level of autonomy for workers. Kleinman and Vallas say knowledge workers do indeed appear to be enjoying greater levels of autonomy, but counter that it is a trend that is unlikely to benefit the workforce as a whole. Instead they propose autonomy is increasing for only a select few—the technical intelligentsia. Meanwhile, workers holding more traditional skills are marginalized and devalued. So this industrial fairytale misses the bigger picture.

Dualism & stratification
As a result of asymmetrical convergence the economic and social position of a limited segment of technical intelligentsia has become much stronger. Kleinman and Vallas say convergence is creating patterns of dualism, disparity and contradiction. So in the academic setting, we get dual systems of employment, with tenured staff representing “core” faculty and adjunct, contracted, and part-time instructors representing marginal faculty. Additional stratification occurs among the core faculty based on relationships with the market. In this case, faculty engaged in more commercially relevant work occupy the top of the hierarchy, while faculty whose work is distant from the market become marginalized.

Contradictions in convergence
A couple of seeming contradictions emerge in the convergence as described by Kleinman and Vallas. For example, while the university uses commercialization of scientific research to boost it’s own legitimacy, it may at the same time be delegitimizing science in the public eye. Another possible irony they mention is that as convergence progresses, autonomy may remain stronger in academic market-distant disciplines like the humanities and sociology. Finally, as they conclude their paper they note that it is worth pondering whether there be growing satisfaction with research in industry, while satisfaction with research in the university declines.

What to do?
Kleinman and Vallas say that while it’s unlikely that we will halt convergence, policy interventions might change its nature. To determine the appropriate interventions they suggest probing several questions such as, what do changing administrative conceptions mean for knowledge production? What does asymmetric convergence mean for scientific work? The quality of academic production? Finally, they also suggest we challenge common-sense notions that innovation requires proprietary knowledge with experiments.

Academic duty not to take it all at face value
Throughout this piece, Kleinman and Vallas repeatedly say one of the factors propelling academic adoption of industrial norms is the universities’ sagging legitimacy in the public eye. I can’t help but wonder if this sagging legitimacy is a reality, or based on yet another romanticized myth of the academic past. I think it’s likely there has always been public skepticism over whether academic researchers do anything worthwhile in the ivory tower on the public dollar. I’m inclined to think this has not changed a great deal in recent years. I could more easily accept the idea that public skepticism may be growing over the value of higher education as tuition costs climb and things like MOOCs erode university monopolies on education. But I think that the legitimacy of the university as an educational institution is a separate question from the legitimacy of the university as a research institution.


How well do you suppose the ideas Kleinman and Vallas present might translate to other countries?

On a scale of 1 – 10 how would you rate the market-proximity of your graduate work?

On a scale of 1 – 10 how well does your confidence in (anxiety over) your future job prospects correspond with your response to the last question?

About the authors:

Daniel Kleinman, lead author on this paper, is not a British TV and music video director, as Google might suggest. He is the associate dean for social studies in the Graduate School at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and professor in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology. He also has a long history of studying commercialization of university science, starting with an ethnographic research project he began in the mid 1990s involving the practices of people working in a biology laboratory. Steven Vallas is professor and chair, in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern University. His areas of research specialization include the sociology of work and inequality, contemporary social theory and the sociology of culture/knowledge/economic institutions.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Commercialization of Science and the Response of STS (Mirowski and Sent, 2008) Chapter from The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies

The purposes of this chapter are 1) to illustrate the changing dynamics of scientific organizations of past century with the perspective of history of governmental policy, business history, and STS, and 2) to introduce, broadly defined, STS community’s reactions on such changes. Authors begin the essay by declaring their position that “commercialization of science turns out to be a heterogeneous phenomenon, resisting simple definition.” (p. 636) Beyond the simple dichotomy between before/after commercialization, authors synthesize the various scholars’ work to summarize the history of commercialization of research university. 
           Authors categorize the history of 20th century science organization into three periods – Captains of erudition regime, Cold war regime, and Globalized privatization regime. (See p. 641, the table 26.1 which literally summarizes the more than half of this chapter) 
           The age of ‘Captains of erudition’ was approximately from 1890 to the Second World War, which covered the progressive era and the age of structural formation of large-scale research system of the nation. By citing business historian Alfred Chandler frequently, authors emphasize the parallel construction and organization of mass markets which is accompanied by the rational organizational response of science-based industry for technological imperatives. Emergence of large firms in Progressive era and governmental reaction to avoid the trust initiated the corporations’ competition on patent and intellectual property for the indirect control of market. Role of patronage institute such as Carnegie Corporation and Rockefeller Foundation was part of legacy of massive industrial corporations. 
           The Cold war regime took the radical departure from the previous period, as new international, institutional, and political context exerted the control on scientific organizations. Experience of large scale national research project for radar, atomic bomb, and cyclotron changed the role of government in scientific development. In short, rise of science ‘policy’, which implies the managerial role of government, well summarizes the characters of this period. Thanks to the war experience that warranted the linear model relationship between basic and applied science, corporate laboratories began to focus not only on maintenance technology, but also on basic research. University research laboratory could be circumscribed as an ‘ivory tower’, as science contained the value of “purity”, “freedom”, and “democracy”. Thus, image of academic freedom is largely the historical legacy of the Cold war regime, according to authors.
           The third regime, the Global privatization regime, is the contemporary age from 1980s. The beginning of the new age was oil-shock and economic crisis that changed companies’ organizational structure from the Chandlerian (hierarchical) corporation to the diversified structure. In this diversified structure, especially under the globalization context, the function of labor and research began to be ‘outsourced’ and distributed to international partners and universities. University, which had been an ivory tower in Cold war period, attained the research function not only for industry, but also for their business – patents. Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, Stevenson-Wydler Act of 1980, the National Cooperative Research Act of 1984, and the National Technologies Transfer Act of 1989 augmented University’s research activity for patent right. 
           As explicitly claimed in the chapter, one of authors’ purposes is to complicate the story, thus to avoid the narrative that simplifies the commercialization of university as a result of their relentless pursue of money. In other words, commercialization can be understood by the historical context of governmental policy, industrial structure, and international politics, indeed reveals the importance of contextualized understanding of it. If there are contributions by STS scholars about the commercialization, they are detailed stories about changing structure of this cluster.
           Then, how do we understand this changing structure? Authors introduce two major frameworks that describe the commercialization – Mode-2 and Triple Helix. To be succinct, authors criticize that 1) these frameworks are lack of empirical evidence, and more importantly, 2) both of Mode-2 and 3H frameworks provide the safeguard to scholars who want to adhere to neoliberal understanding of science and technology. In detail, those theories accept that ‘knowledge’ is for ‘thing’ and ‘product’, and then serve for generic neoliberal vision of science and technology that “any marketized science whatsoever inevitably enhances freedom, expands choice, encourages extended participation, and improves overall welfare.” (p. 670) For authors’ stance, blurring the distinction between university and corporation, or private and public is part of neoliberal world view which those theories are articulating without much concern. Turning into STS’s role in understanding the commercialization, as a concluding mark, authors assure that “disaggregation of science into its component structures and the disaggregation of its manager into divergent agents is the first step toward constructing a sociologically aware account of the economics of science.” (p. 671)

Questions: 1. Does commercialization of university necessarily mean university’s focus on ‘applied’ research? It looks like authors are using ‘basic research’ function of university as an evidence of less commercialized university in the past periods. Isn’t commercialization about the ‘monetary relationship’ with other institutions? Then, could 'basic research' be the factor to decide the stage of commercialization?

2. Focus of Mode-2 and 3H is not to claim the normative vision for the future. In other words, as we read last week, the main function of Mode-2 and 3H framework is to describe the changing structure, even though Mode-2 theory lacks the empirical evidence. In that sense, is it fair to criticize that Mode-2 and 3H framework are admitting neoliberal order?

3. This could be ‘unfair’ question; however, what is STS in authors’ sense?

Authors - Mirowski is a Carl Kohh Chair of Economics and the History and Philosophy of Science, University of Notre Dame; Sent is professor of Economic Theory and Policy at the University of Nijmegem in the Netherlands.

Slaughter and Rhoades (2004) The theory of academic capitalism

Sheila Slaughter and Gary Rhoades's the Academic Capitalism and the New Economy: Markets, States, and Higher Education (2004) is a book that built on Sheila Slaughter and Larry Leslie's (1997) Academic Capitalism: Politics, Policies, and the Entrepreneurial University

  • The authors develop a theory of academic capitalism which "explains the process of college and university integration into the new economy." In a neoliberal state, the new economy focuses not on social welfare but on wealth production and on "enabling individuals as economic actors." Which means colleges and universities are integrating with the new economy, shifting from a public good knowledge/learning regime to an academic capitalist knowledge/learning regime. They also note that the academic capitalism has not replaced the public good knowledge regime but the two coexist, intersect, and overlap.
  • Unlike the public good knowledge regime, the academic capitalism knowledge regime values knowledge privatization and profit taking in which institutions, faculty, and sponsoring corporations have claims that come before those of the public. Knowledge is construed as a private good. The academic capitalism model makes the case that science is embedded in its commercial possibilities. This model sees little separation between science and commercial activity. Discovery is valued because it leads to high-technology products for a knowledge economy.
  • The theory of academic capitalism focuses on networks that link institutions as well as faculty, administrators, academic professionals and students to the new economy. These mechanisms and behaviors make up the academic capitalist knowledge regime. In this new regime, colleges and universities seek to generate revenue from their core educational, research and service functions, ranging from the production of knowledge, such as research leading to patents, to the faculty’s curriculum and instruction, like teaching materials that can be copyrighted and marketed. Research, education, and the nonacademic experience of higher education become commodities and consumable items.

This is a talk by Sheila Slaughter about academic capitalism in LRC Future labor conference (2011). Check it out if you have some time:


1. How does the notion of academic capitalism different from other theoretical frameworks for interpretation of academic entrepreneurship (e.g., Mode 2 knowledge production, Triple Helix model)? 

2. We have been discussed about the relations of higher educational institutions' and our society. Even though the authors of the book kept a critical voice on current regime of the academic capitalism but they are saying that "we do not wish to return to the past." It seems like Slaughter and Rhoades do not mourn a lost era but hope that those involved might put the present to positive uses. Academic capitalism, they claim, "could be resisted, or, more likely, alternative processes of integration could be developed." What would be an example of the positive uses of academic capitalism, and what can be done in order to change the academic capitalist regime?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Interesting Daily Cardinal Headline

After I noticed the front page headline of the Daily Cardinal yesterday, I wanted to share the full digital article with you all and ask your reactions. Here is the link (

Summary of "Tough Choices," E. Schrecker

This chapter, out of Ellen Schrecker’s book, The Lost Soul of Higher Education: Corporatization, the Assault on Academic Freedom, and the End of the American University, seems microcosmic of what the her entire book must be about. Entitled, “Tough Choices: The Changing Structure of Higher Education,” this chapter takes a macro-level perspective on the many economic and, to some degree, social changes that have confronted higher education, and how institutions as a whole have dealt with those changes and been affected by them. Couched in terms of an assault on academic freedom broadly, Checker covers three main categories of those changes and effects: “Economic Crisis and Academic Realignments,” “Research and the Corporatization of the University,” and “Administrative Expansion and Accountability.” These three categories, I sense, are helpful to divisions in discussing the three major takeaway ideas from this reading.

First, “Economic Crisis and Academic Realignments.” Schrecker begins her analysis of the economic changes/ challenges facing universities in the 1970s, when the country experience its worst recession since the end of World War II. Although the dire predictions of “universities going under” hardly came true, the growth they had been experiencing previous to this economically tumultuous period noticeably slowed. The causes of the slowdown were multifold, including inflation, state contributions decreasing, and the federal government shifting aid from institutions to individual students. These factors combined to prompt universities to make numerous adjustments, many of which were not oriented toward academic exceptionalism. Faculty job cuts, Schrecker notes, were numerous, as was the raising of tuition prices so that fewer students could afford college. At the same time, in order to attract those paying customers, universities reoriented their marketing strategies towards providing amenities and, in varying degrees, pleasing the student consumers through grade inflation. Moreover, based on student demand, certain disciplines were, in essence, squeezed out of importance (i.e. “traditional liberal arts” and the humanities) as students looked for majors providing them with “practical” skills. Through all of these changes, Schrecker argues, the curriculum in higher education suffered, as did the faculty who delivered it.  For example, when schools “scrambled to meet demand” by “adding more vocationally oriented courses and staffing them with contingent faculty members,” those faculty members held much less job security and conferred a “more tenuous relationship” with the students.

Schrecker’s second major point in this chapter is that universities, because of those aforementioned changes and many others, have a “growing participation in the market” which is “also reshaping the university’s other major activity: research.” Based on the competitiveness of the university, as well as their own personal drive, faculty researchers have been forced to operate within a more and more constrained institutional setting. Not only is their operating budget highly constrained, but also the nature of their work is often dictated by market demands or legal requirements. Their research results produced within these constraints not only has to be original, but it usually has to be profitable in order to garner enough financial support for the project through fruition, as well as to lure financial resources for their next endeavor. This is especially true, Schrecker notes, for research that requires large infusions of cash like the natural sciences; the humanities, on the other hand, pursues research that “is less expensive and is usually supported by [the] institutions in the form of sabbaticals and course releases.” One major factor in the constraint that particularly natural scientists/ researchers feel is the fact that research money largely comes from the federal government, which, since World War II, has dispensed its money in a highly competitive process with very particular strings attached. For the “big science” researchers that win federal grants, their work is subject to many administrative and political requirements and strictures; for individual researchers with “more modest, though not necessarily less worth, projects,” they lost out to an even greater degree. Clearly these (relatively recent) developments/ realities have dire consequences for all university faculty and their academic freedom.

The final major point Schrecker makes concerns the administrative infrastructure that has inhabited universities as a result of those above developments. For example, she states, the competition for higher enrollment, lobbying efforts for state and federal aid, and application for innumerable research grants has required additional staff to “handle the load.” In fact, she points out that at many institutions (certainly including our own), administrative staff outnumber the faculty population and administrative costs make up an ever-larger percent of their operating budgets. In turn, those administrators have developed their own professional organizations, created their own set of status hierarchies, and continually increased their specialized knowledge so that they have effectually entrenched their necessity to the university’s ever more corporatized operation. However, Schrecker points out that it is still a question whether academic administrators have expanded because they gained more power, or if they gained more power because they expanded. Nevertheless, the robust administrative apparatus is all but taken for granted at many universities today. More consequentially in terms of academic freedom, those administrators often demand a considerable amount of authority and flexibility in the work they carry out. Thus, the formerly democratic decision-making processes at the university were altered according to the two primary constituents of university employees: faculty and staff. Although Schrecker notes survey data that shows most employees believed shared governance worked well on their campus, my impression is that the possibility for tension and conflict based on that duality is omnipresent. Finally, Schrecker speculates as to whether divisions within the professoriate “may very well be more of a threat to its traditional position within academe than the corporatelike ventures of its business-oriented administrators.”

My questions based on my reading of this article are:

Given these multifaceted developments, could their effects on universities ever be un-done? Would the majority of people involved even want that reversion?

How could potential divisions within the professoriate be resolved given the wide variety of academic disciplines, and their highly diverse interests and institutional constraints?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Discussion summary (2/21/2014, Fri)

Discussion summary (2/21/2014, Fri)

-          Questions in summary! Do it!
-          This semester is about changing world. It is useful to ground what we are doing, where we are living.
-          Mode-2 theory has high citation number – measure of people’s interest.
-          What kinds of rhetoric are they using?
-          Read the article attached to the email, send in this morning. (About D to P and K to A)
-          Merton’s ethos of science is about Mode-1 science. (Communism, Universalism, Disinterestedness, and Organized Skepticism) Whether these norms are descriptive or normative is repeating issue in Mode-2 discussion as well.

Gibbons et al (1994)
-          Notion of Mode2 first appeared – how is it differ from Mode-1
-          Mode-1 is traditional disciplinary structure. Mode-2 is supplementary, not supplanting.
-          Parallel growth of production and supply of knowledge production.
-          Bomb thrower and bomb cleaner: Mode-2 theory looks like bomb thrower without clear empirical evidence. For instance, it is too much positive. Every rhetoric looks like good words. Moreover, is this necessary concept?
-          Is this normative suggestion about future of knowledge production, or descriptive argument on current changes?
-          Daniel: Bomb thrower is interesting term. In that context, Hessels and Lente reviewed the big and ungrounded concepts. Naming of the concept is part of scholarly works, because unnamed theory will not be cited.

Gibbons and Nowotny interview (2001)
-          Major point is not clear, because the format is interview
-          Transgressiveness of knowledge: Matter of how to frame the Mode-2
-          Contextualized nature of Mode-2: Context is important in Mode-2. Importance of multiple stakeholders. Context of society matters. Relationship between society and science. Reflexive relationship between society and science.
-          So, Mode-2 theory accepts not only the society is changing, but also the relationship between society and science is changing.
-          Metaphor of Agora – evokes the image of Mode-2
-          Lack of detailed description about transdisciplinarity.

Nowotny, Scott, and Gibbons (2001)
-          About university’s role in Mode-2 production
-          University has taken charge of two conflicting roles: 1) reproduction of a cultivated elites, and 2) development as a scientific institution. (social and scientific role)
-          Tension between these two roles is not new; however in Mode-2 regime, these two roles are not zero-sum game, but a compatible.
-          Knowledgeable people from the outside of university are actors of knowledge production in Mode-2, so that “de-institutionalization” will take place.
-          Future university will need to be more of a synergetic institution. (adaptable and resilient)
-          Boundary between teaching role/research role and inside/outside of university will not vital anymore

Hadorn et al (2008) – Transdisciplinary research
-          Four characteristics of transdisciplinary research: 1) Focus on life world problems, 2) transcend and integrate disciplinary paradigm, 3) participatory research, and 4) search for unity of knowledge.
-          Stakeholder involvement from the earliest moment
-          Why transdisciplinarity? 1) Complexity of problem? 2) aims for “common good” (what is common good, by the way?) 3) network of transformation knowledge, target knowledge, and system knowledge?
-          Both internal and external factors perpetuate the transdisciplinary program.

Hessels and Lente (2008) – review
-          Analyze and criticize the doctrine, Mode-2. How much is it valid? – lack of empirical evidence
-          Comparison of Mode-2 theory of seven other similar theories. How these eight theories agree or disagree among each other? Agree: 1) research agenda is more and more about the application, 2) interactions between science and other social values are increasing.
-          Not necessarily to determine which theory is the truth, but to show the strength and week of each theories.
-          Criticism on Mode-2: 1) The elements of Mode-2 do not necessarily appear at once. Several factors are vivid in some cases, whereas the other factors are not relevant. 2) Historically, Mode-2 is old story

End of summary, time for discussion

Robustness of science? Context dependency of science? (Cole) – Accountability and quality control of Mode-2 implies the more need of social accountability (Haley) – Example of Steven Epstein’s Impure Science: If there are many layers of accountability, do we also have to think about systematic ways to guarantee it? (Daniel) – So, it is about who is expert and who is public. Many layers of accountability are also about the variety of public. Many different social groups and their different interest and accountability should be considered too (June)

Mode-1 is too narrowly defined (almost artificially) to construct the term Mode-2 (June) – If we say Mode-2 is taking place, how do we measure it? For instance, how do we measure the heterogeneity, transdisciplinarity, and reflexivity? Can we really separate different components of Mode-2 with clear standard of evaluation? (Daniel)

Mode-2 makes the university less relevant? (Haley) – Read the book, “The last Intellectuals”. There used to be intellectuals who influence the public at the outside of university at the early 20th century. Nowadays, with stronger higher education system, scholars are writing only for each other. How do we interpret this phenomenon? Are we at the pivotal point? Are we just trying to solidify/defend the boundary? (Daniel) – Interview with blog editor for general public (Cole) – Is it anti-university of anti-intellectual? For instance, do we have system in university to award professors who work in Mode-2 way? (Daniel)

Does transdisciplinary mean the cooperation of who disciplines? (Cole) – According to Gibbons, transdisciplinary cannot be reduced to disciplines. In other words, transdisciplinary research includes irreducible synergetic effect among the disciplines. Or, the notion of discipline itself could be not important at all in transdisciplinary research. (June) – The relationship between the transdisciplinary research and discipline is like cake and flour, sugar. (Sigrid – WOW!!) – Then, how interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary different? (Daniel) – Well….. transdisciplinarity has an aspect of interdisciplinary as well (Haley) – Gibbon et al p. 5 is about it (Heather) – Both transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary need the concept of discipline at the beginning, isn’t it? (Daniel) – Then, Mode-2 is no more than extended form of Mode-1. (Sunny) – Probably we need Mode-1.5 between the Mode-1 and Mode-2. (again, the issue of evaluation)

About Hadorn’s article – What is common good? – NIH’s standard sampling method for ‘common good’ (Matt) – Very pragmatic and opportunistic term (Daniel) – Existence of multiple stakeholders is crucial here. All different stakeholders have different perspective and interest. How the “common good” exist for all of them? Moreover, power among the stakeholders is asymmetric as well (Sigrid) – Again, in line with who are experts and who are public (June) – Think about how Wisconsin Idea has been used in different ways historically. D to P is business related idea; however the origin of Wisconsin Idea is for state of Wisconsin, the public. In other words, university served the public good in past with broad sense, however chasing economic ways of doing it nowadays. (academic capitalism – topic for next week) The value of Mode-2 is not to describe that world is changing from Mode-1 to Mode-2 in linear way, but to ask the question to the concepts suggested in Mode-2.

Three suggested research programs at the end of Hessels and Lente’s article – how can we do them? Any idea? 1) Do transdisciplinary research activities constitute a substantial part of contemporary science systems? (By studying the flow of money in university) 2) Are university scientists in general increasingly reflexive? (Participatory research? Survey?) 3) Do new criteria currently count significantly in all types of scientific quality control, projects or organizations?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Gibbons et al. (1994) Introduction: The new production of knowledge

The book The new production of knowledge: the dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies (1994) by Micheal Gibbons, Camille Limoges, Helga Nowotny, Simon Schwartzman, Peter Scott and Martin Trow first introduced the notion of Mode 2. Three of the authors of this book published a second book: Re-thinking Science: Knowledge and the Public in an Age of Uncertainty (2001) and an article Mode 2 Revisited: the New Production of Knowledge (2003) as a reaction of the criticism that the previous book has received.


The first chapter of this book defines Mode 2 as a new form of knowledge production that started emerging from the mid 20th century and illustrates how it is different from Mode 1. Here I brought and modified a table from Hessels and Lente's article (2008) to quickly recap the different attributes of Mode 2 and Mode 1.

Mode 1
Mode 2
Problem solving
Academic context
Context of application
Knowledge base
Extent of org. unity/diversity
Process of knowledge production
Reflexivity/social accountability
Quality of knowledge
Traditional quality (peer review)
Novel quality control

The authors present the five principles of knowledge production in Mode 2 as follow:

  • Knowledge produced in the context of application
In Mode 1 problems are set and solved in a context governed by the (largely academic) interests of a specific community. By contrast, in Mode 2 knowledge is produced in a context of application involving a much broader range of perspectives.

  • Transdisciplinarity
Knowledge is formal and coded according to the canonical rules and procedures of academic disciplines in Mode 1. But in Mode 2, knowledge is problem-oriented; it attempts to salve problems by drawing on multiple disciplines, which interact in the real-world contexts of use and application, yielding solutions and new knowledge which are not easily reducible to any of the participating academic disciplines.

  • Heterogeneity and organizational diversity
In Mode 1, the development of disciplinary knowledge has historically been associated with universities and other institutions of higher education. These institutions often exist in (ivory tower) isolation from real-world problems. In Mode 2, Knowledge is produced in multiple sites by problem-solving teams with members emanating from various institutions: multinational firms, network firm, government institutions, research universities, laboratories and institutes as well as national and international research programs.

  • Social accountability and reflexivity
In Mode 1, the only reference points for disciplinary knowledge are academic peers and the canonical rules and procedures internal to the academic discipline. However in Mode 2, many of the problems addressed by transdisciplinary and trans-institutional knowledge workers today are of great social importance or commercial value. This is socially accountable knowledge.

  • Quality control
Mode 1 and Mode 2 each employ a different type of quality control. To be sure, peer review still exists in Mode 2 but it includes a wider, more temporary and heterogeneous set of practitioners, collaborating on a problem defined in a specific and localized context. As such, Mode 2 involves an expanded system of quality control compared with Mode 1.

The authors also emphasize that it is important to grasp that they don’t argue that the new practices are going to eliminate the old, that Mode 1 will eventually succumb to Mode 2. It is far more likely that both will continue to coexist. The terms of that co-existence depend as much on the response of institutions that are currently supporting Mode 1 as an the social diffusion of Mode 2.

At the end of the chapter they put some arguments of the reason why we need a concept of Mode 2. They state that the “expansion in the number of potential knowledge producers on the supply side and the expansion of the requirement of specialist knowledge on the demand side are creating the conditions for the emergence of a new mode of knowledge production (p.13).” Also they argue that the concept of Mode 2 can have implications for all the institutions that have a stake in the production of knowledge. 

Summary: Nowotny, Gibbons, and Scott (2001) The Role of University in Knowledge Production

In this chapter, authors investigate the changing role of university in Mode 2 condition. As elaborated in Gibbon and Nowotny’s work (1994), in Mode 1 condition, “problems are set and solved in a context governed by the, largely academic, interests of a specific community”, where as Mode 2 is governed by heterogeneous groups, and more socially accountable and reflexive. (Gibbons, Limoges, Nowotny, Schwartzman, Scott, and Trow, 1994) In this chapter, authors are making normative claims how future of University should be. Main points are as follow.

1.     Have we ever been in pure Mode 1?
“Under the regime of Mode-1 science the universities exercised scientific hegemony through their production of ‘pure’ research.” (p.80) However, author question that the university’s dominant role is a recent phenomenon. Rather than holding the prime role as a frontier of research, university have taken charge of seemingly conflicting two roles, 1) reproduction of a cultivated elite (in other words, role as an educational institution), and 2) development as a scientific institution. In sum, according to authors, “it would be misleading to imagine that the tensions between the social and scientific roles of the university are new.”

2.     We have been in Mode 2, and this trend has been accelerated
Consequently, authors argue that we are in the age of Mode-2 regime. If we accept the Mode-2 knowledge production is taking place, the distinction between social system and the knowledge system is not valid anymore. Indeed, scientific and social role of the university is not, and should not be, a zero-sum game, but a compatible. Furthermore, these two roles could be mutually sustainable in Mode-2. The implications of Mode-2 are that 1) knowledge production is transcending the disciplinary boundaries, 2) more actors are participating in knowledge production, and 3) Knowledge Society is emerging. As a result, the boundary of role of teaching and research in university is breaking down, because knowledgeable people educated in university are actors of knowledge production in Mode-2 regime.

3.     What should university in Mode-2 be?
In a word, authors claim that “the future university will need to be more of a synergetic institution”, in two senses which are 1) in terms of role of both teaching and research, and 2) in terms of boundary between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ of the institution (de-institutionalization). Authors expect that the distinction or boundary between teaching/research and inside/outside of university will not vital anymore. As a conclusion, authors suggest that Mode-2 university will have to be both adaptable and resilient, so that “elite university cannot abandon the wider social responsibilities it has acquired, and mass institutions cannot be discounted as research-producing institutions.”