Higher Education: Commodity or Space for Learning: modelling contradictions in educational practices

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this article the authors reflect upon and critically examine signs of a contradiction in higher education which they discuss in terms of the tension between 'use value' and 'exchange value'. Use value here represents learning as something valuable ‘in itself’ whereas exchange value represents learning as an achievement of grades and credits to be ‘traded’ on a market. Their aim in this article is to present a model based on the concepts of use value and exchange value, clarifying how thye might relate to surface and deep approaches to learning. The model is suggested as a device to explore and analyse local tensions emanating from the contradiction. They also argue in favour of a pedagogical philosophy based on the notion of community.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Educational Sciences
  • Health Sciences


  • space for learning, commodity, exchange and use value, learning commonity: higher education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-116
JournalPower and Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

M Nilsson and M Wihlborg are both first authors The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Education (012013003), Division of Nursing (Closed 2012) (013065000)

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