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Students as "Animal Laborans"? Conceptualising Student Politics in a Marketized Higher Education Setting

Thu, April 8, 12:00 to 1:00pm EDT (12:00 to 1:00pm EDT), SIG Sessions, SIG-Foucault and Contemporary Theory in Education Roundtable Sessions


This paper brings together Arendtian and Foucauldian theoretical frameworks to explore the notion of student politics in contemporary higher education settings. In particular, it explores the extent to which students have been forced into a position of an ‘animal laboran’ (Arendt, 1958) whose primary function is to focus on immediate necessities in highly pressurised university environments. While the paper acknowledges that student politics as demonstration has lost much of its former eminence, it will draw on Foucault to investigate the ways in which altered forms of political participation can emerge within a context where students’ unions have been professionalised and student debt has become a new normality.