index partners

ABSTRACT. Michael Peters (2014) draws a distinction between three different notions of partnership in New Zealand education policy: a “community” concept derived from liberal democratic theories of governance; a “public private partnership” model; and the idea of partnership as “collaboration.” He locates the first two notions in the discourse and politics of neoliberalism and the Third Way and suggests that “[i]n general these terms mask power relations” (p. 2). He sees the third approach as “more visionary” and situates this in the broader context of a social knowledge economy based on the co-production of public goods (pp. 2, 8). This paper focuses on the tertiary education sector, where the principle of partnership finds expression in all three of the forms identified by Peters. I share some of the optimism expressed by Peters in new possibilities for collaborative knowledge-based activity afforded by developments in networked computing but would want to stress that in this realm, as in the other two, questions of power remain important. Attention needs to be paid in particular to the dominant influence of neoliberalism, in its various guises, in shaping conceptions and practices of partnership. The first and third notions of partnership in Peters’ scheme do, however, also offer some hope for resistance against the tide of longstanding neoliberal reform. I argue a case for the development of partnership as “intellectual kinship.” The ideal of intellectual kinship stands opposed to the obsession with performance that is characteristic of tertiary education in contemporary neoliberal societies. It favors cooperation and collegiality over competition, places a premium on the rigorous interplay of ideas, and values the active consideration of social alternatives. pp. 42–48

PETER ROBERTS
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University of Canterbury, New Zealand

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