Revealing the Manifestations of Neoliberalism in Academia: Academic Collective Action in Turkey


  • Canan Coşkan
  • Yasemin Gülsüm Acar
  • Aydın Bayad


Academic Collective Action (ACA) stands as a small-scale collective action for social change toward liberation, independence and equity in academia. Academic collectives in Turkey, as an example of ACA, prefigure building academia outside the university by emphasizing the extent to which neoliberal academia has already prepared the groundwork for more recent waves of oppression. In this research, we aim to reveal the manifestations of neoliberalism in ACA as captured with prominent social/political psychological concepts of collective action. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 21 dismissed academics to understand the social and political psychological processes in academic collectives. The narrations of ACA were accompanied by manifestations of neoliberalism as experienced by dismissed academics. We found that, as follows from the existing conceptual tools of collective action, neoliberalism serves as an embedded contextual factor in the process of ACA. This becomes mostly visible for grievances but also for collective identifications, politicization, motivations, finding/allocating resources and sustaining academic collectives. We provide a preliminary basis to understand the role of neoliberalism in organization, mobilization and empowerment dynamics of collective action.