The University and the State in a Global Age. Renegotiating the Traditional Social Contract in Europe? (Chapter 2)

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This chapter is of a largely contextual character: it seeks to show a comprehensive social and economic context which should be taken into account when considering the various futures of the institution of the university in Europe. Higher education research can make good use of broader, external contexts of transformations already taking place in the universities’ social and economic environments, we assume. Proposals of answers to the questions on external causes of transformations of educational systems and educational institutions (relatively homogeneous on a global scale) are essential to understanding what is changing in universities in Europe and what we could expect for them in the near future.In general terms, Europe is witnessing more general attempts at a reformulation of the post-war social contract which gave rise to the welfare state as we know it (with public higher education as we know it). We argue here for a strong thesis according to which Europe is facing the simultaneous renegotiation of the postwar social contract concerning the welfare state in Europe and the accompanying renegotiation of a smallerscale, by comparison, modern social pact between the university and the nation-state. The present chapter is divided into four sections: a brief introduction, a section on the relationships between the university and the welfare state in Europe, a section on the relationships between the university and the nationstate in Europe, and tentative conclusions. It moves back and forth between the institution of the university and the institution of the state, seeing them as closely linked: problems of the latter inevitably bring about problems of the former, as historically, in the post-war period in Europe, the success of the latter led to the success of the former. We view the modern university and the modern state closely linked throughout the last two centuries, from the very beginning in the Humboldtian ideas of the research university from the early 1800s. This way of thinking about the university and the state can be found in the ideas of new institutionalism in organization studies, especially those emerging in the last three decades in political sciences. Institutions do not undergo their transformations in isolation: institutions operate in parallel, and in parallel they change. There is a complex interplay of influences between institutions and their environments, and universities are perfect examples of powerful connectedness between changes in institutions and changes in the outside world from which they draw their resources, founding ideas, and social legitimacy. The institution of the university in Europe may be undergoing a fundamental transformation – along with the traditional institution of the state in general, and the welfare state in particular.




welfare state, nation-state, globalization, higher education, social contract, universities, higher education, global, modern university, university reforms, public sector, public services, social services, educational reforms, the university and the state, Knowledge Production in European Universities, globalization and welfare, globalization and higher education, globalization and the nation state, globalization and universities


In: Marek Kwiek, Knowledge Production in European Universities. States, Markets, and Academic Entrepreneurialism, Frankfurt and New York: Peter Lang, 2013, pp. 107-150.


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Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego