How Audit Culture is Re-shaping Society with Professor Cris Shore
The rise of ever-more pervasive systems for monitoring, measuring and ranking performance has become a defining feature of our age. Virtually every field of human activity, from childcare, schooling, employment and health to policing, security, environmental management and human rights, is now subject to bureaucratic regimes of audit and ranking based on the idea that measurement is essential for improving quality and promoting trust. These audit technologies are introducing new forms of accountability into the workplace that profoundly reshape the way that indivduals, organisations and societies are governed. Yet they are also producing unanticipated and often perverse effects. Taking up the concept of ‘audit culture’ as an analytical framework, I examine the origins and spread of these new systems of accountability, the rationality driving their proliferation, and their impact across several different fields, from administration and the military to business corporations and universities. Marilyn Strathern famously argued that audit is ‘where the financial and the moral meet’. If so, what new kinds of ethics do audits produce? This lecture sets out a framework for theorising the rise of audit culture and its subjectifying effects. I also ask, what can be done to reclaim the professional values and democratic spaces that these regimes of audit are eroding?
Cris Shore is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Auckland and Guest Professor of Public Management at the Stockholm Centre for Organisational Research. His main research interests are the anthropology of policy, organisations, governance and power. He has conducted fieldwork in various locations including Italy (on Italian Communism), Belgium (EU bureaucracy), New Zealand (neoliberalisation) and the UK (‘audit culture’ and higher education) and has written extensively on the state, corruption, universities and the anthropology of Europe. He is author and editor of 15 books including Death of the Public University? Uncertain Futures for Universities in the Knowledge Economy (with Susan Wright, Berghahn Press, 2017); and The Shapeshifting Crown: Locating the State in Post-Colonial New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the UK (with David V. Williams, Cambridge University Press, in press).
Dates & times
If you are attending an event and need the College to help with any mobility requirements you may have, please contact the event organiser in advance to ensure we can accommodate your needs.