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Audit failure and corporate corruption

Why Mediterranean patron-client relations are relevant for understanding the work of international accountancy firms

Cris Shore

Abstract

Patron-clientelism and corruption were traditionally viewed as problems endemic to underdeveloped marginal countries with weak states, powerful self-serving elites, and widespread civic disengagement. However, recent decades have seen a dramatic increase in corruption scandals in the Global North, particularly its more developed banking and financial sectors. Paradoxically, this has occurred despite a massive expansion in auditing by international accountancy firms (KPMG, PwC, Deloitte, EY) who often portray themselves as warriors of integrity, transparency, and ethical conduct. How are these trends connected? Drawing on anthropological studies of Mediterranean patron-clientelism, I illustrate how collusive relations between accountancy firms and their clients create ideal conditions for corruption to flourish. Finally, I ask how can these accountancy scandals help us rethink patron-clientelism in an age of “audit culture”?

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Britain, Brexit and Euroscepticism

Anthropological Perspectives on Angry Politics, Technopopulism and the UK Referendum

Cris Shore

Abstract

When history books about Brexit are written a key question asked will be ‘how did it happen?’ How did a country renowned for stable governments, pragmatism and diplomacy produce a chaotic outcome so harmful to its economic interests and international standing? This article examines the factors that produced Brexit by analysing its political and historical context, the main campaign groups and their communication strategies. Drawing on the work of , and other anthropologists, I suggest we need to look beyond conventional political science concepts and consider Brexit in terms of ‘enchantment’, ‘angry politics’ and ‘technopopulism’. I conclude that while Brexit provides a window for analysing fault lines in contemporary Britain, it also highlights problems in the EU, its austerity politics and democratic deficit.

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Troublesome Temporalities

Europe between Nostalgia and Promise

Cris Shore

The three articles published in this Forum section were all finalists for the Graduate Student Prize of the Society for the Anthropology of Europe (SAE), which met at the American Anthropological Association’s 2013 meeting in Chicago. While they deal with different parts of Europe (Bulgaria and Romania and Spain, respectively), what unites them is a shared interest in issues of loss, social memory, identity, agency and death, and, in particular, the way people experience temporality and change (see Connerton 1989; Forty and Küchler 1991). The authors brilliantly capture the mood of uncertainty and anxiety facing Europeans in a period of unprecedented uncertainty, insecurity and austerity. What they also show is how Europe’s poor and marginalised are both shaped by and, in turn, try to shape or subvert the national and European policy regimes to which they are subjected.

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Beyond the multiversity

Neoliberalism and the rise of the schizophrenic university

Cris Shore

The restructuring of New Zealand's universities is often considered a paradigmatic case of neo‐liberal reform and governance. While tertiary education is increasingly central to government's ideas about the future global knowledge economy, a new set of discourses has emerged around universities and their role that draws together different, often contradictory, agendas. This heralds not the death of the liberal idea of the university but a shift towards a new, multi‐layered conception in which universities are expected to fulfil a plethora of different functions. This article examines the implications of this emerging ‘schizophrenic university’ paradigm and its effects on academic subjectivities.

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How commercialisation is redefining the mission and meaning of the university

A reply to Steve Hoffman

Cris Shore

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The reform of New Zealand's university system: 'after neoliberalism'

Cris Shore

This article explores the legacy of three decades of neoliberal reforms on New Zealand's university system. By tracing the different government policies during this period, it seeks to contribute to wider debates about the trajectory of contemporary universities in an age of globalisation. Since Lyotard's influential report on The Postmodern Condition (1994), critics have frequently claimed that commercialisation and managerialism have undermined and supplanted the social mission of the university as governments throughout the developed world have sought to transform the university 'from an ideological arm of the state into a bureaucratically organised and relatively autonomous consumer-oriented corporation' (Readings 1996: 457). Against this I argue that the new model of the entrepreneurial and corporate university has not so much replaced the traditional functions and meaning of the university as added a new layer of complexity to the university's already diverse and multifaceted roles in society. Drawing on an ethnography of one university and personal observations, I explore the effects of that reform process on the culture and character of the university and, more specifically, its impact on academic identities and the everyday practices of academics and students. As in other OECD countries, New Zealand's universities are now required to deliver a bewildering plethora of government priorities and strategic economic and social objectives whilst simultaneously carrying out their traditional roles in teaching, research and scholarship. The challenge for the modern university, as reflected in the case of New Zealand, is how to negotiate these diverse and often contradictory missions.

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Peripheral vision as anthropological critique

How perspectives from the margins can illuminate the exploits of twenty-first-century global capitalism

Cris Shore and Susanna Trnka

In the context of rapid neoliberal reform, both anthropology as a discipline and the social and cultural phenomena it studies are undergoing profound changes. In this article we develop June Nash's concept of “peripheral vision” to show how peripheries, and the politics of “peripheralization”, can illuminate processes of neoliberalization and the implications that this has for anthropological knowledge production. We argue that anthropology is uniquely situated to examine the conceptual blind spots produced by capitalism. By recasting “peripheral vision” as an analytic concept and methodological tool, we show how cultivating our ethnographic sensibilities to identify and hone in on events and processes that lie beyond our immediate field of vision can provide a useful antidote to the seductive fantasies of contemporary capitalism. In doing so, we also suggest how this approach can help counter some of the increasing strictures on knowledge production and narrowing of the research imagination that neoliberal reforms impose.

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The Eurozone Crisis, Greece and European Integration

Anthropological Perspectives on Austerity in the EU

Sally Raudon and Cris Shore

Around 2010, a shift in the EU-understanding of austerity took place – from a future-orientated vision based on concepts of solidarity, cohesion and subsidiarity, to a crisis-driven present shaped around the imperatives of immediate fiscal discipline and debt repayment. This has had contradictory effects, producing widespread divisions, disunity and rising nationalism across Europe on one hand, and new forms of social solidarity and resistance on the other.

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‘Third mission’ activities, commercialisation and academic entrepreneurs

Cris Shore and Laura McLauchlan

The growth of ‘third mission’ activities aimed at commercialising universities and creating more entrepreneurial academics is a global phenomenon yet has received scant attention from anthropologists. This paper reports on an ethnographic study that examines the rise of university commercialisation in New Zealand, a country that pioneered many of the reforms associated with neoliberalism. Exploring different sites and spaces of university commercialisation we ask: what impact is commercialisation having on the meaning and mission of the university? Who are the new academic entrepreneurs of the neoliberal university? What does ‘entrepreneurship’ mean in a public university context? Finally, we analyse the challenges and contradictions this is creating for the public university.

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Universities and the commercial construction of reality


reply to commentaries

Cris Shore and Laura McLauchlan