Neoliberalism and the Myth of Higher Education Accreditation in the United States: A Case Study at George Mason University




Burnett, Erika Y

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An examination of the historical development of institutions of higher education in the United States shows that there has been a clear increase in the perpetuation of neoliberal ideologies and practices. The ideology of neoliberalism has been core to the rise of the “myth” of accreditation, its ritual practices of assessment, and the influence of the federal and state government. Assessment practices serve to dominate the national narrative in defining higher education as a commodity, in a marketplace where cultural capital may be purchased. This research explores the methods by which George Mason University is able to fulfill accreditation requirements through assessment rituals. These practices, I argue, perpetuate the myth of accreditation to the disadvantage of the students and faculty of the university. By challenging the myth of accreditation, I argue that alternative paradigms can be developed for valuations of quality in institutions of higher education, one in which students and faculty are served, rather than external auditors.



Higher education, Accreditation, Neoliberalism, Structuralism, Invented traditions