In Paul Gibbs, Jill Jameson & Alex Elwick (eds.), Values of the University in a Time of Uncertainty. Springer Verlag (forthcoming)

Alison Scott-Baumann
School of Oriental and African Studies
In May 1968 there was a strong sense of left-wing camaraderie that drew many French university students into collaboration with the workers’ unions to rise up against de Gaulle’s government. It is highly unlikely that British campuses could be gripped by these values of solidarity and shared agency in a common cause: what can that tell us about Britain? In Britain there are assumptions on the part of many young adults that we are free, equal and fraternal. The parallel digital world that they inhabit so comfortably appears to encourage and facilitate consumer behaviour and freedom of expression: it seems possible to buy and write online almost exactly what you like without consequences. Yet against a backdrop of crass populist discourse there are urgent issues regarding ethical behaviour: online and offline use of language is sharply racialised and gendered. People of colour and women of all ages are frequently attacked. Hate speech is poorly controlled and legal restraints are lagging behind the global digital empires. In addition, on campus the British government is intervening much more than ever before, which makes some students less free, less equal and less fraternal than others. Free speech is being constrained. Populism is on the rise, framed by political alienation. Finally, precarity affects the young in their responses to university: is it worth incurring the debt of high fees? The philosophy of Ricoeur and Lorey show how to interrogate dominant discourses and attempt a better world.
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DOI 10.1007/978-3-030-15970-2_15
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