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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Raaper, R. (2018). 'Peacekeepers’ and ‘machine factories’ tracing Graduate Teaching Assistant subjectivity in a neoliberalised university. British Journal of Sociology of Education 39(4): 421-435.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Guided by a Foucauldian theorisation, this article explores Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) experiences of their work and subjectivity in a neoliberalised higher education environment. By drawing on a research project with GTAs from one UK university, the article argues that GTA work is increasingly shaped by neoliberal reforms. The GTAs interviewed are critical of internationalisation, marketisation and client culture, and see these processes as acting on their subjectivity. The GTAs position themselves as mediators between demanding students and overworked academics: they have turned into much-needed ‘peacekeepers’ and ‘machine factories’. The findings also demonstrate that the subjectivity enforced by a dominant market ideology is further negotiated in the GTA experience. The discourses reveal that a lack of institutional control and coordination of graduate teaching provides the means for, and indeed enables, the GTAs to express some, but often limited, discontent with neoliberalism.

School of Education