Practice architectures of university education

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter aims to challenge the narrative of the university in decline in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, by showing how earlier forms of university life and practice persist within emerging forms. It uses the resources of practice theory—more precisely, the theory of practice architectures —to illuminate the analysis. The chapter proceeds in five main steps. First, the theory of practice architectures is outlined. Second, three vignettes of Australian university life in different eras (1964, 1987, 2015) are presented. These give a sense of the changes underway in Australian university life and practice; each is briefly contextualised by reference to a specific university at the time, and in relation to wider Australian culture , economy, and society and politics. Third, the notion of ‘practice landscapes’ is used to interpret and characterise the ‘look and feel’ of Australian university life and practice across the three periods being explored. We describe the university of 1964 as the juridical university, the university of 1987 as the negotiated university, and the university of 2015 as the entrepreneurial university . Fourth, we return to the notion of practice architectures to show how multiple forms of university life and practice have coexisted over time, with earlier forms persisting within later ones. Finally, we draw the argument to its conclusion, namely, that change in the life and practice of (some) Australian universities 1964–2015 is not a linear progress (or regress) in which earlier forms of the university are destroyed and replaced, but, rather, a complex process in which earlier forms are sedimented and displaced within contemporary university life and practice as a contested terrain. We think this alternative perspective offers scope and hope for transformative action for recovery and renewal in the Australian university.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPractice theory perspectives on pedagogy and education
Subtitle of host publicationPraxis, diversity and contestation
EditorsPeter Grootenboer, Christine Edwards-Groves , Sarojni Choy
Place of PublicationSingapore
Number of pages36
ISBN (Electronic)9789811031304
ISBN (Print)9789811031281
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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