Ideas, Debates, and More: Meeting of European and Asian Higher Education Researchers

Marx and Marxist Theory in Researching Higher Education

Speaker: Dr Krystian Szadkowski  Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland

Chair: Dr  Horta HUGO  The University of Hong Kong

Date: 7 July 2022 (Thursday)

Time: 15:00-16:15 (HK Time) by zoom

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This paper aims to open a space for dialogue between Marxism and the field of higher education research. Its scope will be limited to Marxism and higher education research as they were developed in the West and the Anglophone debates. First, I will demonstrate to what extent Marx is present in the theoretical and methodological discussions within the HER field and examine the reasons behind his absence, i.e., the development of two perspectives regarding capitalist transformations, namely academic capitalism and exceptionalism. Second, I will introduce Marx’s method of critique, conceived as the integrity of the three different analytical moments: a) critique of political economy; b) analysis of the labour resistance; c) contouring the alternative to capitalism. I will explicate how these moments can be translated into the general integrative research program for higher education research. In discussing the research programme, I will emphasise the first moment: the role of the critique of the political economy of higher education. This paper aims to present the grounds for opening a dialogue between Marxism and contemporary mainstream HER.


Krystian Szadkowski, PhD, is a researcher at the Scholarly Communication Research Group of Adam Mickiewicz University. His interests cover Marxist political economy and transformations of higher education systems in Central Eastern Europe and the issues of the public and the common in higher education. He worked as a researcher for Education International (Brussels, Belgium) and as a consultant in policy projects funded by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education.  He is currently working on the three book projects: Capital in Higher Education: A Critique of Political Economy of the Sector (forthcoming, Palgrave Macmillan), Critique as a Method in Higher Education Research. From Political Ontology to the Common (co-authored with Jakub Krzeski, forthcoming, Springer) and The Palgrave International Handbook of Marxism and Education (co-edited with Richard Hall and Inny Accioly).