“Hiding within the Glass Cage”: Performance Management as Surveillance—A Case of Academic Spaces as Resistance Spaces
Hiding Within The Glass Cage
Keywords:performance management; academia; university; power; resistance; space; panopticon; glass cage
Universities have become toxic sites characterised by anxiety, depression and humiliation. Following new managerialism, leadership and management in universities have been driven by the mandate of achieving efficiency, which has led to the implementation of stringent performance management systems, increasing accountability and authoritarianism. While performance management is justified as an accountability tool that drives efficiency and effectiveness, its demand for absolute transparency has created “panopticons” and “glass cages”. These have produced a stifling atmosphere in academic spaces, often characterised by competing demands for high research outputs and quality teaching, thus placing academics in subjected positions where their agency is threatened. In view of academics silently constructing uncontrolled and uncontrollable spaces to avoid increasing surveillance, I argue that academics are resisting universities’ demand for the invading transparency of performance management. Through a critical social constructionist case study of academics and heads of departments, this article explores the paradoxical position of performing academics—those functioning within the “performative culture” while undermining neoliberal performative inscriptions. Framed by the notion of power and resistance and drawing on critical geography and workplace resistance literature, the study reveals that academics’ acts are going against the controlled daily grind of systematised practices that are often meaningless in relation to quality education. They are reimagining and reconstructing lecture halls, stairs, offices and conference spaces as “invisible” free spaces outside direct managerial control.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).