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First doctor comes out of UNIKE

Janja Komljenovič defended her PhD thesis on October 4th and became the first doctor to emerge from UNIKE.

2016.10.14 | Lisbeth Kristine Walakira

Collage on Janja's time at Bristol University as a UNIKE PhD fellow.

Janja Komljenovič has been doing her UNIKE PhD fellowship at Bristol University.

On 4 October Janja Komljenovič defended her PhD thesis Making Higher Education Markets in a viva at Bristol University. According to Susan Robertson, who has been Janja's supervisor, she did an excellent viva, so big congratulations to Janja from the UNIKE team.

Janja is expecting to get her official degree in November and will graduate from Bristol University at the university's official ceremony in February 2017. As from 3 October, she has taken on a postion as Senior Research Associate at Lancaster University.

Below is the abstract of Janja's PhD thesis:

Abstract of Making Higher Education Markets

This thesis examines the dynamics of market-making and market-ordering in the higher education sector. It takes issue with the contemporary research on markets in higher education where concepts like marketization, privatization or commodification are either asserted as outcomes, or where markets are a self-evident concept from neo-classical economic theory. As a consequence, a number of important processes and outcomes remain unexamined, and thus hidden.

This thesis proposes a different theoretical and conceptual approach to studying markets in the higher education sector so as to make visible market-making and market ordering processes. Its theoretical resources and analytical framework draw from economic sociology and economic geography. Conceptually, the thesis benefits from a relational account of the macro/meso and micro dimensions of market-making (Berndt & Boeckler, 2012), and a focus on the study of market framings (Çalışkan & Callon, 2009, 2010), and market orderings (Beckert, 1996, 2009, 2016). Methodologically the thesis is grounded in critical realism and takes a series of four cases to study the empirical processes of market-making. Each of these cases represents a particular angle in exploring markets, involving different market actors and their roles, and the micro-work that they do in making and ordering markets – from buying and selling various products within and across the university boundary, to student recruitment firms, a joint venture aimed at recruiting students to a new market in foundation courses, and the innovative use of social media.

Read more about Janja Komljenovič and her PhD project.

The thesis offers an alternative conceptualisation of higher education markets, in which the university acts in the roles of a seller as well as of a buyer while some markets are aiming for immediate profits while others at the first glance less obviously so. The data and its analysis reveals that markets in higher education are diverse, variegated, processual and relational, and can together be understood as an emerging higher education industry. This industry is co-constitutive of the services economy more generally in the contemporary capitalist order of the knowledge economy. A radical shift is underway as the higher education sector is being transformed from a public sector to an industry as a result of re-framing, re-ordering, re-institutionalising and re-building the sector, its subjects and institutions, as well as its values and knowledge practices.

PhD defence
Tags: Janja Komljenovič, Bristol University, Susan Robertson, UNIKE, Universities in the Knowledge Economy, PhD defense
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Revised 17.05.2017