1st Edition

Academic Irregularities Language and Neoliberalism in Higher Education

By Liz Morrish, Helen Sauntson Copyright 2020
    252 Pages
    by Routledge

    252 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge


    This volume serves as a critical examination of the discourses at play in the higher education system and the ways in which these discourses underpin the transmission of neoliberal values in 21st century universities. Situated within a Critical Discourse Analysis-based framework, the book also draws upon other linguistic approaches, including corpus linguistics and appraisal analysis, to unpack the construction and development of the management style known as managerialism, emergent in the 1990s US and UK higher education systems, and the social dynamics and power relations embedded within the discourses at the heart of managerialism in today’s universities. Each chapter introduces a particular aspect of neoliberal discourse in higher education and uses these multiple linguistic approaches to analyze linguistic data in two case studies and demonstrate these principles at work. This multi-layered systematic linguistic framework allows for a nuanced exploration of neoliberal institutional discourse and its implications for academic labor, offering a critique of the managerial system in higher education but also a larger voice for alternative discursive narratives within the academic community. This important work is a key resource for students and scholars in applied linguistics, Critical Discourse Analysis, sociology, business and management studies, education, and cultural studies.

    List of tables and figures



    Chapter 1 – Critical University Studies: Defining a Field

    Chapter 2 – The Student as Consumer and Commodity

    Chapter 3 – Marketing the Goods

    Chapter 4 – Language and Audit Culture 1: Research and Performance Management

    Chapter 5 – Language and Audit Culture 2: The Case of the Teaching Excellence Framework

    Chapter 6 – Colonising the Corporate Academic

    Chapter 7 – Conclusions and Possibilities for Contesting the Discourse

    Glossary of terms


    Liz Morrish is an independent scholar. For over 30 years, she taught linguistics at Nottingham Trent University.

    Helen Sauntson is Professor of English Language and Linguistics at York St John University, UK.