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versão On-line ISSN 2304-8557
versão impressa ISSN 0023-270X

Koers (Online) vol.76 no.3 Pretoria  2011


Knowledge for sale? The impact of a consumerist hermeneutics on learning habits and teaching practices in higher education


Kennis te koop? Die impak van 'n verbruikershermeneutiek op studiegewoontes en onderrigpraktyke in hoër onderwys



E.M. Conradie

Department of Religion & Theology University of the Western Cape Bellville, E-mail:




The impact of the commercialisation, if not the corporatisation of higher education institutions in a globalised economy, has been widely discussed in recent literature with regard to the ethos of institutions, management, research, as well as teaching and learning. Indeed, in the 'knowledge industry' knowledge is offered for sale. This article makes a contribution to this discourse by exploring the impact of consumerist hermeneutics on the basis of critiques of consumerism in Christian discourse, drawing especially on the work of Vincent Miller, 'Consuming religion' (2003). The notion of consumerist hermeneutics is related to the impact of culture commodification in a consumer society. Given the overload of information, consumers have to adopt shallower forms of attention as a survival strategy. If such a shallower engagement is applied to virtually all cultural products, this leads to a reductionist understanding of knowledge. The impact of such consumerist hermeneutics on learning habits and teaching practices in undergraduate university education is then discussed briefly. In conclusion, some possibilities for resisting the hegemony of a consumerist ideology are noted.

Key concepts: consumerism, hermeneutics, knowledge, university education


Die impak van die kommersialisering en korporatisering van hoëronderwysinstellings in 'n geglobaliseerde ekonomie word wyd bespreek in eietydse literatuur, met betrekking tot die etos en bestuur van instellings, navorsing, leer en onderrig. In die sogenaamde kennisindustrie word kennis te koop aangebied. Hierdie artikel lewer 'n bydrae tot hierdie diskoers deur die impak van n verbruikershermeneutiek te ondersoek op grond van Christelike literatuur oor die verbruikerskultuur, met spesi-fieke verwysing na die werk van Vincent Miller in 'Consuming religion' (2003). Die konsep 'verbruikershermeneutiek' hou ver-band met die kommodifisering van kultuur in 'n verbruikersame-lewing. Verbruikers word gedwing, gegewe die oorlading van inligting, om vlakker vorms van aandag te benut as n oor-lewingstrategie. Indien sodanige vlakker aandagvorms op alle kulturele produkte toegepas word, lei dit tot 'n reduksionistiese begrip van kennis. Die impak van sodanige verbruikersherme-neutiek op studiegewoontes en onderrigpraktyke in voor-graadse universiteitsonderrig word op grond hiervan ondersoek. Verskeie moontlikhede om weerstand teen die hegemonie van die verbruikersideologie te bied, word ten slotte genoem.

Kernbegrippe: hermeneutiek, kennis, universiteitsopvoeding, verbruikerskultuur



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