British Journal of Sociology of Education Special Issue Call for Papers

The Competition Fetish in Higher Education: Sociological Perspectives

British Journal of Sociology of Education

Higher Education worldwide is trapped in a competition fetish. The intensification of the struggle for positional advantage in the global economy, the enhanced global mobility of research and development and the competition for highly skilled knowledge workers have contributed to a fierce competition within and between national systems of higher education. In addition, powerful trans-national configurations have entered the fray.

Global competition in higher education takes many forms. It includes government-sponsored contests which involve deliberate strategies to develop or enhance vertical stratification in order to identify and support those institutions which are, or have the potential to be world class. International rankings lead to diverse institutions in very different national contexts vying for membership in the stratum of the most elite universities currently dominated by the United States. In addition to the entry of for-profit providers, the unleashing of quasi-market forces on publicly funded universities is leading to the commodification of teaching and research and a focus on the number of student customers–captured, the extent of research involvement with corporate interests and the degree of financial surplus created. These externally generated competitive pressures interact with deeply embedded traditional forms of rivalry for scientific recognition and prestige.

Sociologically informed conceptual and theoretically informed empirical articles are sought which scrutinise these issues and their impact in  the context of national, regional and/or global contexts. Contributions are welcome on a range of themes including:

  • Global competition and the public good
  • International mobility and global elites
  • Rankings and league tables
  • Branding, marketing and consumption in higher education
  • Implications of marketisation for inclusion
  • Global competition and post-imperialism
  • Stratification and the graduate labour market

The special issue will be edited by Rajani Naidoo, Phil Brown and Geoff Whitty.  We urge prospective authors to refer where possible to existing debates already published in the journal and to ensure that their article makes an original and theoretically informed contribution to the sociology of education.

Submission Details

Full papers must be submitted direct to the journal by 1st February 2015. The word limit for articles is 8,000 words (maximum) including references. All manuscripts should be submitted through ScholarOne and will be subject to the normal peer review process.  Authors should note that accepted papers that are under this call may, for reasons of space, become allocated to a normal Issue of the Journal. 

Find out more about how to submit and read the full instructions for authors.

Editorial information

  • Executive Editor: Phi Brown
  • Executive Editor: Rajani Naidoo
  • Editor: Geoff Whitty