Martin Upchurch , Phoebe Moore , Aylin Kunter (2014), Marketisation, Commodification and the Implications for Teachers’ Autonomy in England, in Paul Zarembka (ed.) Sraffa and Althusser Reconsidered; Neoliberalism Advancing in South Africa, England, and Greece (Research in Political Economy, Volume 29) Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.133 – 153
This chapter reviews the ongoing processes of marketisation in secondary school teaching and its further embedment through commodification of teachers’ performance. We track developments through documentary evidence from Government statements and other agency reports and unstructured interviews with teachers’ union representatives in the South West of England. Following Carter and Stevenson (2012) we begin by introducing the labour process debate concerning teachers’ productive labour to provide the backdrop for the argument that teachers’ work is increasingly commodified and judged along neoliberalised requirements. Commodification has taken place through measurement of abstract standards constructed by associating individual teachers with their pupils’ achievements, as well as subjective assessment of teacher behaviour judged against newly introduced ‘Teacher Standards’. We argue that this attempted quantification of teacher output is constructed, in Marxist terms, to accommodate to the ‘socially necessary labour time’ and to indirectly maximise work ‘output’ for individual teachers through a process of standardisation of processes involved in task completion. We attempt to define new ways of measuring teachers’ work through the lens of abstract labour and link such processes to workplace alienation. In such fashion, teachers are subject to work intensification, increased monitoring and surveillance, further standardisation of work and weakening of creative autonomy leading to intensified alienation from the professional nature of the job.