Postgraduate Research in a Sick Society

Dakka, Fadia and Wade, Alex (2023) Postgraduate Research in a Sick Society. Research Papers in Education. ISSN 0267-1522

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This paper argues that contemporary Western societies’ fixation on different elements of capitalist production, consumption and distribution lies at the heart of the crisis in mental health and wellbeing increasingly experienced by individuals within key state institutions. The paper weaves together Lefebvre’s and Marcuse’s theoretical insights to explore the generation of (time-)spaces in contemporary societies, focussing in particular on higher education and specifically on the lived experiences of postgraduate researchers. The insistence that welfare states, turned into workfare states, treat the symptoms, namely mental ill health, through drugs and sedation, shows the reach of consumption and distribution as a means to address the problems caused by production and especially that of the production of knowledge. Against this backdrop, the paper draws on empirical data from a recent study undertaken by the authors examining the challenges to mental and physical health that postgraduate study posed at a university in the English Midlands. The results are grim. The obliteration of the social, cultural and political determinants of this malaise is expedient to place the onus of corrective measures on the individual through a series of self-help strategies, which again, privatise the atomised self to its lowest common denominator: the cerebral, emotional self. If the body becomes sick in industrialisation, is it any wonder the mind becomes sick in cognitive capitalism?

Item Type: Article
Identification Number:
19 June 2023Accepted
12 July 2023Published Online
Subjects: CAH15 - social sciences > CAH15-01 - sociology, social policy and anthropology > CAH15-01-02 - sociology
CAH15 - social sciences > CAH15-03 - politics > CAH15-03-01 - politics
CAH15 - social sciences > CAH15-04 - health and social care > CAH15-04-03 - health studies
CAH22 - education and teaching > CAH22-01 - education and teaching > CAH22-01-01 - education
Divisions: Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > School of Education and Social Work
Depositing User: Fadia Dakka
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2023 17:55
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2023 10:51

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