The commons against neoliberalism, the commons of neoliberalism, the commons beyond neoliberalism

Authored by: Max Haiven

The Handbook of Neoliberalism

Print publication date:  June  2016
Online publication date:  July  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138844001
eBook ISBN: 9781315730660
Adobe ISBN: 9781317549666


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I am typing these words in the Learning Commons of a local university library, a space defined less by a scholarly atmosphere of contemplation and debate and more by the gently arcing rows of brushed steel computer workstations and the proliferation of corporate brand icons. There, emblazoned on the wall, is the name of a local property developer, renowned for pushing a gentrification agenda, who donated the money to create the Learning Commons. Glowing apple insignias beam out from students’ laptops. Flatscreen TVs announce various policies regarding food and drink on two-thirds of the screen; the last third is reserved for advertisements for debt relief and spa treatments. These help pay for the screens themselves. Long-discarded fast food wrappers clutter wood-laminate tables (cutbacks have led to a scarcity of custodial staff). On the floor lie an array of brand-name designer backpacks and handbags. While this space was allegedly designed to foster the realization of the latest buzzword-driven trends (from collaboration to synergy to cross-pollination to leadership) most of its denizens sit alone and stare transfixed at their respective screens: writing papers or preparing presentations for tomorrow’s class, chatting with friends a world away or mere feet away, watching YouTube clips of cute animals, or playing elaborate multiplayer strategy games.

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