Academic Subjectivities: Governmentality and Self-Development in Higher Education

  • Fabian Cannizzo Monash University
Keywords: governmentality, subjectivity, technologies of the self, academia, higher education, performance development.


International debates surrounding the management of universities in Western states have focused heavily upon the implications of neo-liberalism and the economisation of knowledge at national and international levels. However, investigations at the institutional level reveal that programmes for the development of human capital, organisational reputation and service quality in education and research are encouraged through regimes of self-development, directed towards organisational objectives. This article utilises governmentality theory to explore the relationship between governance and subjectivity within the Australian higher education system. The governance of higher education, it will be argued, is enabled by mentalities of government which are dependent upon contemporary technologies, techniques for self-evaluation and career-planning, expertise about university labour, and—importantly—practices which engender an enterprising academic identity. To explore the utility of this analysis in contemporary Western liberal states, this study explores the construction of subjectivity implicit within Monash University’s Performance Development Online (PDO) technology. Embedded with “technologies of the self,” this performance management platform is positioned within Monash as a gateway which requires academics to reflect upon their careers and selves, encouraging the genesis of marketable identities. This article points to the utility of further research into the development of career in a changing academic environment.

How to Cite
Cannizzo, F. (2015). Academic Subjectivities: Governmentality and Self-Development in Higher Education. Foucault Studies, (20), 199-217.