Transforming the Game: Democratizing the Publicness of Higher Education and Commonwealth in Neoliberal Times

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This article argues that neoliberalism should be understood as a game-transformative set of practices in which the objective of each move is not only to gain the upper hand in the established game, but rather to repeatedly change the basic configuration of the game itself to further enhance its power. In the face of this assault on democratic commonwealth in higher education and elsewhere, many progressives are stuck in a primarily defensive frame according to which the objective is to resist losses and re-establish conditions that facilitate a less asymmetrical political game. This political stance harbors little democratic promise because it is insufficiently attentive to neoliberal game-transformative practices. To rejuvenate vital and mutually supportive relationships between public higher education and democracy, we must co-create a radically democratic game-transformative pedagogical and political practice in which we intensify and expand the meaning of publicness and publics. The article explores Northern Arizona University's Action Research Teams initiative as one prefiguration of this possibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)622-639
Number of pages18
JournalNew Political Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 30 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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