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  • Researching ICT: The Scholars’ Alienated Experience

    Mike Healy

    Chapter from the book: Healy, M. 2020. Marx and Digital Machines: Alienation, Technology, Capitalism.


    ‘Researching ICT: The Scholars’ Alienated Experience’ examines the experience of academics researching the ethical and societal aspects of ICT. The chapter asks how effective Marx’s theory of alienation would be when applied to what could be described as a relatively ‘benign’ experience since it is generally assumed that researchers have some autonomy over their work. The chapter opens by describing the conflictual and constantly changing conditions that shape the scholars’ working environment with its attendant stresses and contradictory pressures including a neoliberal management environment, problems associating with publishing including peer review and the wider contexts of demands s at universities including those of teaching and administration. The author uses Sarah Mann’s application of Marx’s theory of alienation to students' lack of engagement to bring into focus this other contributor to the alienated condition of the academic arising in Higher Education. Important factors contributing to the alienated feelings of researchers expressed through the research included commitment to a subject, creativity (or lack of), collaboration and/vs competition and academics’ lack of control over ‘process and product’ when it comes to research funding and publishing the results of it. The analysis concludes that pressures arising from the competitive research environment are the focus of much concern for researchers and that the analysis of alienation as presented by Marx is helpful in understanding their condition.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Healy, M. 2020. Researching ICT: The Scholars’ Alienated Experience. In: Healy, M, Marx and Digital Machines. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book47.e

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    Published on Oct. 16, 2020