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Title: The impact of academics and university administrators on political correctness in academia : a positive political theory analysis
Author: Dzenis, Sandra
ISNI:       0000 0004 9351 5782
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2020
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Political correctness (PC) is a regulatory phenomenon that restrains allegedly offensive speech and behaviour towards disadvantaged groups of individuals. Today, this phenomenon is prominent within top universities in the UK, Canada and the US. This thesis explains why and how academics and administrators at these universities impact PC in academia, and thus shows that these agents are a necessary causal factor of PC’s prominence in the academic realm. To do so, the dissertation analyses the actions of academics and university administrators from the perspective of positive political theory, which uses rational choice-based models to examine socio-political phenomena. In particular, the thesis uses rational choice models belonging to public choice theory – the application of economic tools to politics that aims at producing explanations and predictions. This work examines the ideological dimension of PC and scrutinises four crucial spheres where academics and university administrators interact with PC, namely, academic research, the higher education curriculum, affirmative action and speech codes. The thesis concludes that the liberal values of substantive equality and individual liberty largely underpin PC, whose regulatory function is to protect a liberal value system from illiberal truth-claims. Ultimately, via successful rentseeking and by having advantages in solving collective action problems, interest groups of PC-driven academics and university administrators capture academic institutions. They employ PC to gain rents and to shape the institutions’ policies, thus protecting their members from ideological and professional competition. Ideology and material self-interest align in a way that strengthens PC.
Supervisor: Meadowcroft, John ; Jennings, Colin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available