Landing : Athabascau University

Networking: the "hidden curriculum" of the neoliberal "edu-factory"?

English Studies in Canada 36.4 (2010) includes a Readers' Forum that should be of interest across the faculties at an institution like ours. The subject is "Social networking and the Humanities" and the five contributions are quite diverse. Wish I'd been at the Congress session this forum is based on; at least it got videotaped. (See

Among the contributions, I came across this particularly provocative claim by MSVU's Max Haiven, a member of the postdoc precariat, and it seems well worth quoting (and debating) here in the Landing especially. It both resonates and jars with my experience of the structure, use, and aims of the Landing, which is similar to other social applications but also critically different from them, not unlike the way AU is like and yet critically different from other universities. Anyway, Haiven writes:

Once, critical scholars spoke of the "hidden curriculum" of higher education as the enculturation of rote learning and hierarchies of knowledge and power that prepared workers for life in turgid factories and soul-sucking office towers (Giroux and Penna 34). Today, the hidden curriculum of the edu-factory is the training of individuals to net/work, to develop a neoliberal work-of-the-self fundamentally based in social networking: building tenuous and disposable linkages to maximize personal leverage in a world without guarantees. (23)

The full article and for that matter the whole forum are well worth reading in full to properly contextualize this comment, but in its own right it does crystallize some of the macro-level issues we grapple with locally and witness taking place globally.

Work Cited

Haiven, Max. "Net/working in the edu-factory." ESC 36.4 (2010): 21-6. Print.


  • Derek Briton November 30, 2012 - 12:09pm

    Thanks for this Mark, interesting. Of course the other side of the coin is that there is no longer a need for a hidden curriculum because the state now confidently promotes education in service of industry, as opposed to the people/citizenship, and people accept it as a no-brainer--"Why else would we need education other than to get a job?" One only has to look at the name of former ministrys of higher education. In Alberta, for instance, "enterprise" is confidently asserted ahead of education: Enterprise and Advanced Education. The "hidden curriculum" has been outed and is being heartily hailed. 

  • sarah beth November 30, 2012 - 3:15pm

    In a particularly "out" campaign, Mohawk College has imagined their graduates as a set of packaged "futureready" action figures:

    These images have been made into billboards used in bus shelters, targeting a portion of the community that uses public transit for education that might get them into (slightly) better paid positions.