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International Students, Academic Writing and Plagiarism Conference

Abstract: Sue Saltmarsh "Producing/consuming the subject/s of plagiarism: intervention and its antecedents"

Academic integrity has become an issue of major concern in universities around the world. Scandals involving students and academics found to be involved in plagiarism and other forms of academic misconduct-including some prominent names from the world's leading institutions-damage not only the reputations of individuals and institutions, but also erode public confidence in the purpose and role of universities in community life. While universities express concern about the potential of plagiarism to undermine academic values, there is also concern about its potentially damaging effects on the perceptions of consumers and industry-perceptions which relate to quality of degrees and graduates, and in turn, to the 'brands' of institutions, corporations and nations. Increasingly, there is recognition that plagiarism must be understood as taking place within the broader contexts of neoliberalism, globalisation, and the intensification of educational marketisation. In this paper, I draw on examples from online sources-university, corporate and 'essay mill' websites-to show how market discourses function as the antecedents to, and establish the limits of, current interventions aimed at reducing the incidence of plagiarism. Drawing on poststructuralist theories of subjectivity and consumption, and engaging them in dialogue with sociocultural analyses of consumer culture and technologically mediated environments, I argue that maintaining standards of academic integrity in higher education must begin by addressing the co-implication of institutions and corporations in constituting social subjects in primarily economic terms.  Drawing on the work of Michel de Certeau, I consider how this constitution in economic terms is inscribed on the social body, and argue that in order to be effective, interventions must not only address conventions/intentions of academic writing, but must also work toward an interrogation of the social practices connecting subjectivity, economy and education.

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