Tag Archives: open access

RiCES public seminar: Unpacking the ‘transnational associations of capitals’ in global higher education

Unpacking the ‘transnational associations of capitals’ in global higher education: rankings and the subsumption of academic labour under academic publishing capital

Krystian Szadkowski, Adam Mickiewicz University

3 June | 12:30–2:00pm | Minerva Building 3202

This presentation explores the concept of ‘transnational association of capitals’ in the context of higher education (Hall, 2014; Ball, 2012). The focus will be on the conditions and consequences of the expansion of merchant capital (or capital involved in circulation), limited to large and quasi-monopolistic academic publishers. The claim behind this talk is that in order to grasp the specificity of the process of subsumption of academic labour under academic publishing capital, it is not enough to focus exclusively on proprietary relations (i.e. expropriation, enclosures, primitive accumulation, alienation). Such an analysis, although providing extremely rich material, has its limitations: capital may opt out from the private property form and ownership, but will never give up domination. The tool of capitalist domination and control, in all sectors of production, even immaterial and biopolitical, is measure. For this reason, this presentation will focus on the functionality of the capitalist mechanisms of establishing measures for the expansion of academic publishers’ capital based on the subsumption of global academic labour.

Krystian Szadkowski (1986), is an assistant professor at the Institute of Philosophy and a researcher at the UNESCO Chair for Institutional Research and Higher Education Policy of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. His research interests cover Marxian political economy, autonomist Marxism and transformation of higher education systems in Europe. In 2014 he defended his PhD thesis entitled Towards the University as an Institution of the Common. Philosophical Foundations of the Critical Higher Education Studies [in Polish]. Recently, he co-edited a collected volume Joy Forever: The Political Economy of Social Creativity (MayFly 2014). He is also an editor-in-chief of peer-reviewed journal Praktyka Teoretyczna/Theoretical Practice.

Open Education and the emancipation of academic labour

Joss Winn has a new article in Learning, Media and Technology journal. It’s part of a forthcoming special issue on ‘Critical Approaches to Open Education’. In addition, our colleague at DMU, Prof. Richard Hall, also has an article published in the same issue: For a political economy of massive open online courses.

Open Education and the emancipation of academic labour


I have previously argued that open education is a liberal project with a focus on the freedom of things rather than the freedom of people (Winn, Joss. 2012. “Open Education: From the Freedom of Things to the Freedom of People.” In Towards Teaching in Public: Reshaping the Modern University, edited by Michael Neary, Howard Stevenson, and Les Bell, 133– 147. London: Continuum). Furthermore, I have argued that despite an implicit critique of private property with its emphasis on ‘the commons’, the literature on open education offers no corresponding critique of academic labour (Neary, Mike, and Joss Winn. 2012. “Open Education: Common(s), Commonism and the New Common Wealth.” Ephemera: Theory & Politics in Organization 12 (4): 406–422). In this paper, I develop my critical position that an emancipatory form of education must work towards the emancipation of teachers and students from labour, the dynamic, social, creative source of value in capitalism. In making this argument, I first establish the fundamental characteristics of academic labour. I then offer a ‘form-analytic’ critique of open access, followed by a corresponding critique of its legal form. Finally, I critically discuss the potential of ‘open cooperatives’ as a transitional organisational form for the production of knowledge through which social relations become ‘transparent in their simplicity’ (Marx, Karl. 1976. Capital, Vol. 1. London: Penguin Classics, 172).

Download this article from Learning, Media and Technology journal.

A pre-print can be downloaded from the University of Lincoln research repository.