Neoliberal Governmentality and Performativity Culture in Higher Education: Reflections on Academic Identity

Tulubas T., GÖKTÜRK Ş.

RESEARCH IN EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION & LEADERSHIP, vol.5, no.1, pp.198-232, 2020 (ESCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 5 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.30828/real/2020.1.6
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.198-232
  • Keywords: Neoliberal governmentality, Higher education, Neoliberal olicy tool, Performativity, Professional identity, PERCEPTIONS, MANAGEMENT, POLITICS
  • Kocaeli University Affiliated: Yes


This qualitative study aims to explore how the culture of performativity resulting from the influences of neoliberal governmentality on the academe is perceived by academics throughout their career and interrogates how their perceptions could reflect on their professional identity. The study was conducted with twenty-four academics from state universities in Turkey. The analysis of the in-depth interviews revealed that the emerging culture of performativity in higher education institutions seems to establish three identity trajectories as perceived by academics. Accordingly, some resist to conforming to the neoliberal norms in the academe, some feel obliged to conform to these norms albeit with ethical dilemmas while some welcome and embrace these emerging norms. The findings highlight some threatening consequences of performativity as a neoliberal policy tool in higher education for both the soul of the academic profession and the quality of work in the context of Turkey. Implications are identified, which include the need to develop new policy tools prioritizing professional integrity and internal accountability to achieve desired quality in higher education.