South African academia in crisis: The spread of `contrived collegial managerialism'

  • B Johnson University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


In 1999, on the eve of rationalisation of South African higher education, J. M. Coetzee published a book entitled Disgrace. In this publication he narrates the tale of a Classics and Modern Languages professor transformed into an adjunct professor of communications, a marketable identity, as a consequence of rationalisation. Coetzee, describing his sense of displacement states: In this transformed and, to his mind, emasculated institution of learning he is more out of place than ever. But then, so are other of his colleagues from the old days, as burdened with upbringings inappropriate to the tasks they are set to perform; they had become clerks in a post-religious age (Coetzee 1999, 4).

Although Disgrace is a fictitious tale, the writer, to some extent, draws one's attention to the `role strain' experienced by academics during restructuring.

South African Journal of Higher Education Vol. 20(1) 2006: 56-69

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eISSN: 1011-3487