Convergence and Diversity, Centres and Peripheries
Reclaiming the Role of Higher Education in Croatia: Dominant and Oppositional Framings
Danijela Dolenec and Karin Doolan
Framed within a critical theory perspective that draws on Fraser’s (2000 and 2003) concept of justice, this chapter outlines the development of the neoliberal doctrine in higher education and analyses how it influenced the official discourse in Croatia with respect to the concepts of development, and the role of the state and higher education in particular. The analysis shows that the official rhetoric primarily advanced a marketised conception of higher education whose role is to service the labour market and contribute to economic growth. This dominant framing of the role of higher education is contrasted to the oppositional discursive framing by the Independent Student Initiative, a student protest movement in Zagreb that has rejected neoliberal reforms of higher education. The movement framed higher education as a public good and emphasised the role of the state in shielding public services from privatisation and commodification. The oppositional discourse of the Independent Student Initiative is interpreted as a transformative struggle against socio-economic injustice which has extended the spectrum of the political Left in Croatia.
Key words: student protest movement, critical theory, neoliberal doctrine, higher education policy, Croatia
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