The Economics of Academic "Values"

Human Arenas (2023)
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Abstract

At first blush, values such as diversity appear to be worth striving for. The question is whether or not such values—which have become increasingly prevalent in university mission statements—are values as such, which is to ask whether they are things of moral worth (Value, n.d.), or are something else altogether. My unpopular suspicion leans toward the latter. Personal opinions, of course, are hardly a justification for an impassioned critique, however, my opinions mirror those held by moderate and conservative witnesses to the sociopolitical climate of academia (Pew Research Center, 2017) as well as individuals who would typically be considered classically liberal such as Peter Boghossian (2021). Because of this concordance and in order to understand the constitutive relations of academic production, it becomes necessary to critically examine the nature of institutional values, separate from polemical rhetoric that either seeks to construct a "straw man" of them in order to lay them low or insulate them from outside reproach altogether Since "diversity" seems to be the chief concern among interested groups both in the academic setting and the world at large, this article's point of access to the relations of production in academia will be anchored by a Marxian assessment of diversity as a product of social labour in the academic environment.

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Ryan Wasser
Luzerne County Community College

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