A place for bullies

November 26, 2004

The culture of bullying described in "Bullying made me feel suicidal" (Soapbox, November 5) is directly linked to the institutional transformation of British universities in the past two decades.

The rigid imposition of the "audit society" (as Michael Power has called it) via the "British regulatory state" (Michael Moran's term) has been particularly destructive in the university system, which still consists of people who care about the intellectual substance of their work.

Scholars and academics are more defenceless because they are increasingly dependent on external bureaucrats for their resources and career structures. When the dog-eat-dog criteria of the research assessment exercise rule, bullying becomes just one relatively effective way of imposing the authoritative norms.

Phil Cerny
Professor of global political economy
Rutgers University, New Jersey

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