From dialectics, dissent and to disobedience: The fate of the academic scholar and of social justice

Year: 2019

Author: Webster, Scott

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

While ‘academic freedom’ and democracy are often championed as of great value in higher education, they are often treated suspiciously and with contempt by those who manage the system.In this presentation, a fictional narrative account shall be offered to identify and discuss the very real dilemma faced by many academics whose increasing expertise in the field of education inevitably brings them into greater conflict with policies affecting how they are to enact their scholarship, academic freedom and democratic citizenship.It would appear that the neoliberal system reproduces itself by promoting individuals into management who are most suited to its intrinsic nature, through an inverted sort of totalitarianism (Wolin 2017).Consequently, Chomsky (2016) identifies two sorts of academics working within society and the institutions of higher education – firstly, the ‘responsible’ technocratic and policy oriented intellectuals who uphold and maintain the system, and secondly, values-oriented intellectuals who live their ideals pursuing social justice through challenging authorities and injustice.It shall be argued that a scholarly approach to education involving thinking of a dialectical nature, progresses to dissent and to disobedience (Fromm 1981) because it is perceived by those who manage the status quo, as dangerous (Giroux, 2015).


Chomsky, N. (2016). Who Rules the World? London: Hamish Hamilton.

Fromm, E. (1981). On Disobedience: Why freedom means saying ‘no’ to power. New York: Harper Collins.

Giroux, H. (2015). Dangerous Thinking. London: Routledge.

Wolin, S. (2017). Democracy Incorporated. Princeton: Princeton University Press.