Ethnography and the Bureaucratic University

in Navigators of the Contemporary

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780226887517
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226887531 | DOI:
Ethnography and the Bureaucratic University

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This chapter considers the proposition that the shift in character of the idea of the university from a university of culture to a bureaucratic university has been accompanied by a diminution in respect for the institution. The situation is complex, but contemporary disappointment with the university may be anatomized along the following familiar lines: (1) The contemporary university is fragmented, even balkanized. (2) The contemporary university is isolated, even parochial. Academics speak to other academics, with little attention to the excitements of other ways of life. (3) The contemporary university is boring, essentially just another large bureaucratic institution, and no more intrinsically interesting than others. Ethnography for present situations addresses each of these discontents.

Keywords: bureaucratic university; nationalist institution; bureaucracy; cultural decline; ethnography

Chapter.  2106 words. 

Subjects: Theory and Practice of Anthropology

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