Advocates of higher education have long contended that universities should operate above the crude material negotiations of economics and politics. Such arguments, ignore the historical reality that the American university system emerged through, and in service to, a capitalist political economy that unevenly combines corporate, state, and civil interests.
As the corporatization of U.S. universities becomes nearly impossible to deny, the common response from many academics has been a superior stand against the contamination of the professional ideal by tainted corporate interests. Inside the Teaching Machine proposes a correction to this view through the lens of historical materialism.
Chaput argues that the U.S. public research university has always been a vital component of the capitalist political economy. While conventional narratives of public higher education emphasize civic preparation and upward mobility, Chaput demonstrates that supposedly egalitarian policies like the Morrill Land-Grant Act and the G.I. Bill served the changing interests of capitalism much as education, creating a professional class that supports the capitalist political economy. Chaput also focuses on the relationship between American universities and globalization, showing how the trend toward professionalization contributes to the production of surplus value, and the ways that the American university model circulates outside the United States. Chaput concludes by advocating rhetorical strategies for the professional who opposes the capitalist logic of the global university system, proposing concrete options for engaging and redirecting globalization within the university system.