Book Chapter

Employability as exploitability : a Marxist critical pedagogy


This chapter argues that any critical, and especially Marxist approach to pedagogy, needs to tackle head-on the ways in which academic workplaces and classrooms are being implicitly, and in some cases explicitly, shaped as employment laboratories. To counter this trend, one possible short-term tactic is to teach the dark side of employability. This means to reveal the exploitation and alienation of work as labour in a capitalist system, to warn against the magic pill of ‘transferable skills’, and teach life as a critique of the so-called ‘successful transition’ from graduate to worker celebrated by the ‘embedding employability’ discourse. The chapter first presents the neoliberal employability agenda in the UK since the late 1990s in terms of government and sector-led policy in higher education as well as employability metrics, and briefly reviews what has become a growing academic field. It then presents some of the key critical literature that explains the rise of this agenda, before proposing some initial thoughts on how to develop a counter-conduct pedagogy for exploitability, i.e. appropriating the employability agenda in universities so as to teach students ‘how to know when to quit a job’, among other tips on how to survive in a capitalist labour market.

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Pal, Maïa

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Social Sciences


Year of publication: 2021
Date of RADAR deposit: 2021-10-20

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Related resources

This RADAR resource is the Accepted Manuscript of Employability as exploitability: A Marxist critical pedagogy
This RADAR resource is Part of Thinking beyond neoliberalism: Alternative societies, transition, and resistance [ISBN: 9783030826680] / edited by Neal Harris, Onur Acaroglu (2022).


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