‘The rising tide that lifts all boats’

Here is a re-recording I made of a recent talk given to MA at the University of Birmingham, commissioned by my supervisor Justin Cruickshank. The full title is ‘The rising tide that lifts all boats’ – the myth of the “invisible hand” and the fetish of competition in UK higher education reform. The ‘rising tide’ quote comes from a speech made by David Willetts in 2011, right at the beginning of the Coalition “gamble” to fulling marketise higher education in the UK. But in this talk I trace the reforms back to their origin in the Dearing report in 1997, and argue that even though the reforms have been shown in recent months to be a failure, there is a deeper belief in the “invisible hand” of the market that can be linked with what is popularly called “neoliberalism”, and even further back to Adam Smith and classical liberalism. However, through a close reading of Foucault’s 1979 Birth of Biopolitics lectures (see earlier post), the concept of neoliberalism is revisited to make it more effective critically, as arguably this concept has become more of a rhetorical device than anything.

Here is the Powerpoint to download: INVISIBLE HAND TALK

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