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Edited by Brendan Cantwell, Hamish Coates and Roger King

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Brendan Cantwell, Hamish Coates and Roger King

This chapter introduces this Handbook on the Politics of Higher Education. It starts by advancing ideas and frames to position the following chapters, and then considers broad rationales for the book. The chapter closes by surveying the Handbook’s five parts, and providing a brief overview of the 28 chapters that follow.

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Brian Pusser

This chapter presents an overview of a state-theoretical approach to understanding the politics of higher education. It presents a historical review of critical theories of the state, with particular attention to contest and hegemony. The civil society is also addressed in historical perspective, with analysis of citizenship, institutional and market forces, and the nature of public and private action within the civil society. Attention is also turned to interests and formations beyond the civil society, to the role of social movements in state contest, to the distinction between the state and government, and to the role of power in understanding contest. The history of scholarship on the politics of higher education is reviewed, with a particular focus on critical approaches and theories of the state. Each of the elements of the state-theoretical conceptual approach are linked to the understanding of education as a central state function, and to universities as political institutions of the state, with examples drawn from historical and contemporary political contests in higher education