This is the updated and revised abstract for my keynote talk at the conference of Association of Law Teachers at Northumbria University, 21st March.
In this talk I will explore the nature of the academic-student relationship with reference to the UK Consumer Rights Act 2015, where students are confirmed as consumers of higher education. Given that legal arrangements are by their nature adversarial (Pashukanis 1983 81) the legal status of consumer has devastating consequences for academic-student collaboration, the subject of this year’s conference. Following Evgeny Pashukanis (1891 – 1937), a Marxist legal theorist, I will suggest a remedy to this situation based not on the law but on a form of ‘technical regulation’, or ‘unity of purpose’ (81) in which social arrangements are organised in terms of the goal to be achieved rather than the protection of private interest ( Fine 1984, Mieville 2005, Winn 2015). I will illustrate this remedy with examples of my own work with others: Student as Producer, a model of curriculum development where students are part of the academic project of the university, and the Social Science Centre, Lincoln a membership based, jointly owned and democratically ran co-operative for higher learning.
Fine, Bob (1984) Democracy and the Rule of Law: Liberal Ideals and Marxist Critiques. London: Pluto Press.
Mieville, China ( 2005) Between Equal Right: A Marxist Theory of International Law. Leiden: Brill.
Pashukanis, Evgeny (1989) Law and Marxism: A General Theory. London: Pluto Press.
Winn, Joss (2015) Open Education and the emancipation of academic labour. Learning, Media and Technology, 40 (3).