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Academic capitalism and Jesuit higher education: a critical discourse analysis of mission statements




Billings, Christine D., author
Carlson, Laurie, advisor
Kirby, Erika, committee member
Palmquist, Michael, committee member
Stewart, D-L, committee member

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Slaughter and Rhoades (2009) developed the theory of academic capitalism to explain the market-like behaviors of colleges and universities, which has been made more prevalent by the rise in neoliberal ideology and the new knowledge-based economy. Bok (2003), Giroux (2003), and others have warned against these market-like behaviors as a threat to the public good of higher education. Jesuit higher education institutions (JHEIs), of which there are 27 in the United States (U.S.), are related to the educational apostolate of the Society of Jesus whose involvement in education predates the colonization of the U.S. As a Catholic religious order, the Jesuit mission and charisms are infused within their sponsored institutions, including the promotion of justice which is often counter to academic capitalism. Mission statements convey an organization's raison d'etre. As a discursive tool that reflects and contributes to the construction of JHEI identity and purpose, mission statements may provide insight into how these institutions communicate their purpose and identity to internal and external stakeholders. In order to examine mission statements, scholars have utilized the transdisciplinary critical discourse analysis framework (CDA) (Fairclough, 1989, 1993) to explore how language as social practice (re)contextualizes the purpose of higher education. This study attempted to bring together the following three threads: CDA as a framework to examine language in use, mission statements as an expression of JHEI mission and purpose, and academic capitalism. The findings revealed language of resistance through the use of intertextuality and transitivity. By cohesively linking Jesuit charisms with the purpose of universities for the public good and students as social actors educated to promote justice, JHEI mission statements convey a resistance academic capitalism.


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