2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Diversifying the Intellectual Philosophical Tradition: An Althusserian and hooksian analysis into the role of essay questions in University Education.

Sarah Thompson, 2023, Stage 3

Education became commodified through the introduction of university fees in UK higher education. This commodification means that Newcastle University is implicitly entangled with the economic values of society. Under investigation within this project was the question of diversity in UK higher education institutions. The case study used to ground this investigation was data collected from core modules on Newcastle University’s Undergraduate Philosophy degree. The questions were categorised into five categories, ‘Understanding’, ‘Comparative’, ‘Contemporary/Applied’, ‘Diverse’, and ‘Other’. After analysing and evaluating this quantified data, Althusser’s concepts of reproduction and interpellation were analysed. This Althusserian framework provides an understanding of the role of essay questions in the reproduction of the current intellectual philosophical tradition. The Foucauldian notion of normalisation and historical examples were utilised to substantiate the claim. Whilst a good framework, Althusser’s theory is overwhelmingly unoptimistic. By engaging with bell hooks, the investigation was able to draw out some possible solutions. A framework for alteration was established based on hook’s focus on communication and work by Elbow. In an inverted hierarchical sense, change can start in the university institutions themselves. By implementing more inclusive attitudes in the academy, prejudice, and bias are deconstructed, this would lead to a critique and deconstruction of privilege and diversification of the philosophical intellectual tradition.

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