Lawrence Busch

Lawrence Busch is University Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Michigan State University and the author of Standards: Recipes for Reality (MIT Press)

  • Knowledge for Sale

    Knowledge for Sale

    The Neoliberal Takeover of Higher Education

    Lawrence Busch

    How free-market fundamentalists have shifted the focus of higher education to competition, metrics, consumer demand, and return on investment, and why we should change this.

    A new philosophy of higher education has taken hold in institutions around the world. Its supporters disavow the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake and argue that the only knowledge worth pursuing is that with more or less immediate market value. Every other kind of learning is downgraded, its budget cut. In Knowledge for Sale, Lawrence Busch challenges this market-driven approach.

    The rationale for the current thinking, Busch explains, comes from neoliberal economics, which calls for reorganizing society around the needs of the market. The market-influenced changes to higher education include shifting the cost of education from the state to the individual, turning education from a public good to a private good subject to consumer demand; redefining higher education as a search for the highest-paying job; and turning scholarly research into a competition based on metrics including number of citations and value of grants. Students, administrators, and scholars have begun to think of themselves as economic actors rather than seekers of knowledge.

    Arguing for active resistance to this takeover, Busch urges us to burst the neoliberal bubble, to imagine a future not dictated by the market, a future in which there is a more educated citizenry and in which the old dichotomies—market and state, nature and culture, and equality and liberty—break down. In this future, universities value learning and not training, scholarship grapples with society's most pressing problems rather than quick fixes for corporate interests, and democracy is enriched by its educated and engaged citizens.

    • Hardcover $24.95
  • Standards

    Standards

    Recipes for Reality

    Lawrence Busch

    An investigation into standards, the invisible infrastructures of our technical, moral, social, and physical worlds.

    Standards are the means by which we construct realities. There are established standards for professional accreditation, the environment, consumer products, animal welfare, the acceptable stress for highway bridges, healthcare, education—for almost everything. We are surrounded by a vast array of standards, many of which we take for granted but each of which has been and continues to be the subject of intense negotiation. In this book, Lawrence Busch investigates standards as “recipes for reality.” Standards, he argues, shape not only the physical world around us but also our social lives and even our selves.

    Busch shows how standards are intimately connected to power—that they often serve to empower some and disempower others. He outlines the history of formal standards and describes how modern science came to be associated with the moral-technical project of standardization of both people and things. Busch suggests guidelines for developing fair, equitable, and effective standards. Taking a uniquely integrated and comprehensive view of the subject, Busch shows how standards for people and things are inextricably linked, how standards are always layered (even if often addressed serially), and how standards are simultaneously technical, social, moral, legal, and ontological devices.

    • Hardcover $35.00
    • Paperback $30.00