Academia after BrexitPosted: July 11, 2016 Filed under: Uncategorized 2 Comments
This is a very interesting article. There are so many academics both unable and unwilling to communicate with anyone except a handful of colleagues who share lots of their assumptions, and have no real concerns other than winning favour and advancement from those people. And who dress up what are actually often quite straightforward ideas in loads of jargon to give their writing a veneer, and make it inaccessible other than to cognoscenti – in reality a form of snobbery. More public engagement, more contact with a wider range of people and thought, genuine ‘critical thinking’ that moves outside of narrowly-drawn realms of what is deemed acceptable, and good writing, are essential.
Michael Gove’s claim that ‘people in this country have had enough of experts’ was one of the most astonishing of the entire Leave campaign. In one short sentence, he single-handedly silenced voices of authority, whether they agreed with him or not. By this rubric, it no longer matters whether the experts in question are right or wrong. The point is, nobody cares either way. Their opinion is irrelevant.
This leaves academics in a tricky position. What else are experts for other than to advise — and to be taken notice of — in complicated situations such as these? While University of Liverpool’s Professor Dougan’s video on EU law circulated widely on social media, this was clearly not enough to counter Gove’s pithy rejection of university expertise in general. Those speaking for caution found themselves out-manoeuvred after being thrown into an unexpected popularity contest. ‘We’re not sure about any…
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Almighty Gove’s comment was indeed an extraordinary one, especially coming from an ex-Secretary of State for Education; whilst he certainly sought to ignore the academics, I do not think for one moment that he will have “silenced” them. It ain’t all over yet…
I think she could have gone further on the ‘reason versus emotion’ topic, because I think emotions arise on the basis of how people experience the facts of their lives. A feeling of powerlessness is not in itself irrational, though it might produce contra-rational behaviour. There is always selection of fact, and this selection process is too often ignored by academics. The gap between one kind of selection and another can be very damaging, viz for example the complete failure of social anthropologists to have influence on our policies towards the Middle East.