ABSTRACT. The paper will consider the research, development and ongoing production of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) within a contested field in which an ideal of “unconditional and free” learning, where “intellectual stimulation and personal development” flourish, seems set in opposition to the risks of a neo-Weberian ‘silicon cage’ of institutionalised instrumentalism in practice. The paper will seek to address MOOCs, a special case within the wider educational domain, from the perspectives of existing theories of time, technology, social process, social practice and social change, and in the broader, global context of neoliberal capitalism, and the assumptions about socio-political realities that accompany and underpin it. In particular the paper will draw on the theoretical concept of doxa developed by Pierre Bourdieu to interpret the discourse of technology-focussed research in the educational domain. pp. 65–83

Keywords: MOOCs; doxa; capitalism; power; technology; time


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Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies,
University of Warwick, UK

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