Academic Assessment in the Carceral Society


  • Geoffrey Harding Department of General Practice and Primary Care, Barts and the London, Queen Mary’s Medical School, University of London, Medical Sciences, London E1 4NS, UK;
  • Kevin M Taylor School of Pharmacy, University of London, 29-39 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AX, UK


academic assessment


The performance of university teachers is increasingly subjected to scrutiny and assessment. This contrasts with the historical concepts of the “ivory tower” and “academic freedom”. Academics are now exposed to forces that seek to regulate, control, curtail, define or shape their productivity. In this paper, we consider this assessment culture, in particular the evaluation of research performance, in the context of Foucault’s concept of the “carceral” society in which “docile bodies” are under constant surveillance to ensure continuous efficient productivity. The negative impact that formal assessment can have on academics’ teaching, research and relationship with the wider community is explored. These impacts may be particularly harmful within a vocational subject such as pharmacy, requiring as it does a mix of knowledge and skills originating in a wide range of scientific, social scientific and practice related disciplines.


Ritzer, G. (1998) “Writing to read: changing the culture and reward structure of American sociology”, Contemporary Sociology 27, 446–453.

Ritzer, G. (2000) The McDonaldization of Society, 2nd ed. Pine Forge Press, Thousand Oaks, California.

Taylor, K.M.G. and Harding, G. (1997) “Publishing in the PJ—why bother?”, Pharmaceutical Journal 258, 269.




How to Cite

Harding, G., & Taylor, K. M. (2001). Academic Assessment in the Carceral Society. Pharmacy Education, 1(2). Retrieved from



Research Article