Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Vying for Legitimacy: Academic vs Corporate Culture

Prof. Grazia Weinberg.

Following the general trend already existing in the Western world, state universities in South Africa, in seeking other sources of income, have embraced the corporate model as the most efficient system of organizing education today, thus opening the door to activities such as commercialisation, applied and contract research, and the development of stronger links with external stakeholders.

This paper questions the legitimacy of the commodification of intellectual property and whether financial considerations alone are a fair and acceptable reason for the adoption of a corporate system in education particularly in a country like South Africa which is trying to shed the legacy of its colonial past. Can cost efficiency and technological innovations which are global in nature and which are accelerating social change legitimize corporate practices in the university without affecting a) its character as a public institution and b) the role of each individual member?

Indeed, complex though the term may be, the generic meaning of ‘legitimacy’ refers to ‘rights’: the right to claim, the right to question whether correct procedures have been followed, and, ultimately, the right to assess whether a policy or a system serves the good of all concerned. In this sense, in determining the notion of the ‘right thing to do’, any discourse on legitimacy, by taking into account a wide diversity of viewpoints, will deal primarily with values and the recognition of basic human needs.


Prof. Grazia Weinberg  (South Africa)
Lecturer in Italian
Department of Modern European Languages
University of South Africa

Grazia Sumeli Weinberg has specialized in Italian Studies and more specifically in Feminism and modern Italian writing. She has written the first monographic work on Dacia Maraini, and articles on Cesare Pavese, Erminia dell'Oro and Aldo Nove. She has also published work related to South African issues.

  • Commodification
  • Corporate culture
  • University
  • Education

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)