Fief and benefice feudalism : Two types of academic autonomy in US Chemistry

Faculty/Professorship: Sociological Theory  
Author(s): Wieczorek, Oliver ; Beyer, Stephanie; Münch, Richard
Title of the Journal: Higher education : the international journal of higher education and educational planning
ISSN: 1573-174X
Publisher Information: Dordrecht [u.a.] : Springer Science + Business Media B.V.
Year of publication: 2017
Volume: 73
Issue: 6
Pages: 887-907
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.1007/s10734-017-0116-2
In this article, we apply Max Weber’s ideal types of fief and benefice feudalism to elite and non-elite chemistry departments in the USA. We develop a theoretical analogy of academic feudalism in regard to three dimensions: power relations, engagement with companies, and the impact of structural changes on the autonomy of scholars. We use a mixed methods approach to track changes in productivity and industrial collaboration on a departmental level and the researcher’s understanding of research autonomy on the individual level. On the departmental level, our findings suggest that scholars located at elite departments are able to utilize federal and industrial resources to increase publications over time. On the individual level, we establish that researchers in both segments perceive their autonomy as being very high, whereas practical autonomy differs according to department. While scholars atelitedepartmentsremainrelativelyautonomousinpractice,scholarsatnon-elitedepartments often tend to tailor their research to specific requirements to receive funding.
Keywords: Academic feudalism, Academic capitalism, Max Weber, Mixed Methods Study, Research Universities
Peer Reviewed: Ja
International Distribution: Ja
Type: Article
Year of publication: 4. December 2017