Postgraduate Research in a Sick Society

Fadia Dakka*, Alex Wade

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper argues that contemporary Western societies’ fixation on different elements of capitalist production, consumption and distribution lies at the heart of the crisis in mental health and wellbeing increasingly experienced by individuals within key state institutions. The paper weaves together Lefebvre’s and Marcuse’s theoretical insights to explore the generation of (time-)spaces in contemporary societies, focussing in particular on higher education and specifically on the lived experiences of postgraduate researchers. The insistence that welfare states, turned into workfare states, treat the symptoms, namely mental ill health, through drugs and sedation, shows the reach of consumption and distribution as a means to address the problems caused by production and especially that of the production of knowledge. Against this backdrop, the paper draws on empirical data from a recent study undertaken by the authors examining the challenges to mental and physical health that postgraduate study posed at a university in the English Midlands. The results are grim. The obliteration of the social, cultural and political determinants of this malaise is expedient to place the onus of corrective measures on the individual through a series of self-help strategies, which again, privatise the atomised self to its lowest common denominator: the cerebral, emotional self. If the body becomes sick in industrialisation, is it any wonder the mind becomes sick in cognitive capitalism?
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)743-762
    Number of pages20
    JournalResearch Papers in Education
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 12 Jul 2023


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