Graeber recounted his attempt, during the student protests against increasing tuition fees in 2010, to come up with a way for lecturers to take part. “Most clearly weren’t going to join the occupations, but I thought some kind of boycott of more obviously meaningless paperwork – say, all those self-assessment documents that would only be used to figure out who to cut. If you see a document about ‘excellence’ or ‘quality,’ just ignore it, don’t fill it out, I said. People stared at me as if I were insane. What, not fill out the form? You have to fill out the forms! Otherwise, someone will suffer. It’s never quite clear who. But you are always made to know if you don’t do this or that form, you’re hurting someone else.” In this way, Graeber told me, “academics are trained in passivity”.

Poco meno di un anno fa, Times Higher Education (THE) ha provato a dare risposta a una coppia di domande che sembrano particolarmente attuali anche nel panorama italiano:

If the “modernisation” of higher education is supposedly all about efficiency and productivity, why are managers imposing tasks that are by any common-sense measure a complete waste of time? And if academics are so demonstrably fed up with demands to fill out yet another piece of pointless paperwork, why do we continue to consent?

Lo spunto era la recensione di un volume di saggi sulla burocrazia di David Graeber, The Utopia of Rules. L’autore, invervistato da THE, osserva:

… it is bizarre for employers in the public and private sector alike to be behaving like the bureaucracies of the old Soviet Union, shelling out wages to workers they do not appear to need. … We all spend more and more hours of our day discussing, analysing and assessing what we do, and fewer and fewer hours actually doing it, and all of it, just to give these high-level administrators who aren’t really needed something to do for their gold-plated salaries.

Per quanto inatteso, il paragone con l’Unione Sovietica non è nuovo (ecco un paio di precedenti: Big Brother in the Academy, A very Stalinist management model). Per qualcuno dei nostri lettori, altrettanto o persino più sorprendente sarà la spiegazione data da Graeber:

long-hours pen-pushing – or mouse-clicking – is imposed on employees as a form of social control: it’s a way of ensuring that we are too monitored, busy and tired to raise questions or revolt.

Chissà se i colleghi italiani associano il seguente commento di Graeber a quanto hanno vissuto nelle ultime settimane:

Graeber recounted his attempt, during the student protests against increasing tuition fees in 2010, to come up with a way for lecturers to take part. “Most clearly weren’t going to join the occupations, but I thought some kind of boycott of more obviously meaningless paperwork – say, all those self-assessment documents that would only be used to figure out who to cut. If you see a document about ‘excellence’ or ‘quality,’ just ignore it, don’t fill it out, I said. People stared at me as if I were insane. What, not fill out the form? You have to fill out the forms! Otherwise, someone will suffer. It’s never quite clear who. But you are always made to know if you don’t do this or that form, you’re hurting someone else.” In this way, Graeber told me, “academics are trained in passivity”.

Un panorama che potrebbe apparire sconfortante, ma non è ancora detta l’ultima parola:

Graeber, at least, sees hope in the revival of student protests: recent occupations have made the reduction of audit culture a key demand. “We’re at an historical juncture,” he concludes. “If students and staff join forces, and start trying to think together about what sort of university system they’d like to see, I think we’d be quite surprised [at] what could be done.”

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3 Commenti

  1. Purtroppo il Times of Higher Education quando deve prendere un “cattivo esempio” si butta subito sullo stalinismo eppure tutte queste “cattive abitudini” sono totalmente coerenti e ben radicate e innervate nel sistema capitalista..:-) Magari sarebbe utile smetterla di pensare al sistema che abbiamo come “va bene bisogna solo aggiustare questi difetti” e aggiornarci alla realtà di un sistema marcio, no?

  2. Cris Shore, and Susan Wright, “Governing by numbers: audit culture, rankings and the new world order”, Social Anthropology, Volume 23, Issue 1, pages 22–28, February 2015

    Quantification and statistics have long served as instruments of governance and state power. However, in recent decades new systems of measurement and rankings have emerged that operate both beyond and below the nation-state. Using contemporary examples, we explore how international measurements, rankings, risk management and audit are creating new forms of global governmentality. We ask, who – or what – is driving the spread of audit technologies and why have indicators and rankings become a populist project? How should we theorise the rise of measuring, ranking and auditing and their political effects? What are the impacts of these ever-more pervasive systems on organisational behaviour and professional life?

  3. Il saggio di Graeber (“The Utopia of Rules”) è stato tradotto in italiano:
    _________________
    David Graeber, Burocrazia (pp. 218, euro 21), il Saggiatore
    _________________
    Il Manifesto ne parla in due articoli:
    _________________
    «Graeber ha molte frecce nel suo arco nel provare a cercare a demistificare l’assunto neoliberista del «meno stato». La più micidiale è la successione di esempi che costellano le pagine del suo libro, laddove emerge il fatto che con il neoliberismo la burocrazia non è diminuita, bensì aumentata»
    http://ilmanifesto.info/il-punto-di-fusione-della-gabbia-dacciaio/
    _________________
    «Graeber apre con la sua analisi con l’enunciazione di una «regola ferrea del liberalismo», in base alla quale «qualsiasi iniziativa di governo volta a ridurre la burocrazia e a favorire le forze di mercato avrà l’effetto ultimo di incrementare il numero complessivo delle norme, la quantità complessiva delle pratiche cartacee e il numero dei burocrati». Da un simile punto di vista, mercato e burocrazia lungi dal costituire polarità antitetiche appaiono implicarsi reciprocamente.»
    http://ilmanifesto.info/la-macchina-estrattiva/

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