The Capital-Labor Problem in Academic Knowledge Production

  • Marton Demeter University of Public Service (UNI-NKE)
  • Gergö Háló University of Public Service (UNI-NKE)
  • Andrea Rajkó Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BME)
Palabras clave: academic knowledge production, academic capital, academic production, neo-liberalization, prestige economy


This theoretical essay critically examines the intricate relationship between academic knowledge production, academic capital accumulation, and the pervasive influence of neo-liberalization within the contemporary knowledge-based society and economy. After introducing the concepts of academic capital and academic labor, the paper identifies a concerning emphasis on academic capital in the world system of academic knowledge production, where qualifications from prestigious institutions disproportionately influence career opportunities, mobility, and research funds. The essay argues that while there is ongoing criticism regarding the neo-liberalization of academia, a related phenomenon, namely the prestige economy, remains oftentimes uncovered. The paper ultimately highlights the adverse consequences of a capital-centric academic environment, urging for a more balanced approach that prioritizes knowledge diversity, internationalization, and localized research initiatives, countering the homogenizing forces of the prestige economy within global higher education, and puts more emphasis on the production of labor than on academic capital.


La descarga de datos todavía no está disponible.


Altbach, P. G. (2004). Globalisation and the university: Myths and realities in an unequal world. Tertiary Education and Management,10(1), 3–25.

Antonowicz, D., Kohoutek, J., Pinheiro, R., & Hladchenko, M. (2017). The roads of ‘excellence’ in Central and Eastern Europe. European Educational Research Journal, 16(5), 547–567.

Barabási, A.L. (2018). Network science. Cambridge University Press

Ben-Porath, Y. (1967). The production of human capital and the life cycle of earnings. Journal of Political Economy, 74(4), 352–365.

Bidarra, J., & Sousa, N. (2020). Implementing mobile learning within personal learning environments: A study of two online courses. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 21(4), 181–198.

Blackmore, P., & Kandiko, C.B. (2011). Motivation in academic life: a prestige economy. Research in Post-Compulsory Education, 16(4), 399–411.

Bourdieu, P. (1988). Homo Academicus. Stanford University Press.

Bourdieu, P. (1998). Practical reason. On the theory of action. Stanford University Press.

Bourdieu, P. (1996). The state nobility. Elite schools in the field of power. Polity Press.

Bourdieu, P. (2004). Science of science and reflexivity. Polity Press.

Burawoy, M. (2009). The public sociology wars. In V. Jeffries (ED.), Handbook of public sociology (pp. 449-470). Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Burris, V. (2004). The academic caste system: Prestige hierarchies in Ph.D. exchange networks. American Sociological Review, 69(2), 239–264.

Chen, X., Zou, D., Xie, H; Cheng, G., & Liu, C. (2022). Two Decades of Artificial Intelligence in Education. Educational Technology & Society, 25(1), 28–47.

Clauset, A., Arbesman, S., & Larremore, D. B. (2015). Systematic inequality and hierarchy in faculty hiring networks. Science Advances, 1(1), 1–6.

Cook, M. (2009). Personnel selection. Adding value through people. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Cowan, R., & Rossello, G. (2018). Emergent structures in faculty hiring networks, and the effects of mobility on academic performance. Scientometrics, 117, 527–562.

Cummings, S., Regeer, B., De Haan, L., Zweekhorst, M., & Bunders, J. (2018). Critical discourse analysis of perspectives on knowledge and the knowledge society within the Sustainable Development Goals. Dev Policy Rev., 36, 727–742.

Cummings, S; Heeks, R., & Huysman, M. (2003). Knowledge and learning in online communities in development: A social capital perspective. Development Informatics Working Paper Series, Paper no 16.

Cummings, S., & Hoebink, P. (2017). Representation of academics from developing countries as authors and editorial board members in scientific journals: Does this matter to the field of development studies? Eur J Dev Res, 29, 369–383.

Curry, M. J., & Curris, T. (2018). Global academic publishing. Policies, perspectives and pedagogies. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Demeter, M. (2018). Theorizing international inequalities in communication and media studies. A field theory approach. KOME − An International Journal of Pure Communication Inquiry 6(2), 92–110.

Demeter, M. (2019) Bung the gap. Narrowing Global North – Global South bias in measuring academic excellence by weighting with academic capital. KOME: An International Journal of Pure Communication Inquiry, 7(2), 1–16.

Demeter, M. (2020). Academic Knowledge Production and the Global South. Questioning inequality and under-representation. London: Palgrave.

Demeter, M., Jele, A. & Major, Z.B. The model of maximum productivity for research universities SciVal author ranks, productivity, university rankings, and their implications. Scientometrics 127, 4335–4361 (2022).

Dobbins, M. (2015) Exploring the governance of Polish public higher education: balancing restored historical legacies with Europeanization and market pressures, European Journal of Higher Education, 5(1), 18–33.

Ennew, C., & Greenaway, D. (2012). The globalization of higher education. New York: Palgrave Macmillan

Evans, M. (2020). Navigating the neoliberal university: Reflecting on teaching practice as a teacher-researcher-trade unionist. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 41(4), 574–590.

Geiger, R. L. (2009). Curriculum, accreditation and coming of age of higher education. Perspectives on the history of higher education. New York: Routledge.

Goldin, C. (2016). Human capital. In Handbook of cliometrics, ed. Claude Diebolt and Michael Haupert, pp. 55-86. Heidelberg, Germany: Springer Verlag.

Goyanes, M., & Demeter, M. (2020). How the Geographic Diversity of Editorial Boards Affects What Is Published in JCR-Ranked Communication Journals. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 97(4), 1123-1148.

Goyanes, M., Demeter, M., Grané, A. et al. (2020). A mathematical approach to assess research diversity: operationalization and applicability in communication sciences, political science, and beyond. Scientometrics 125, 2299–2322.

Gulyás, A. (2004). Etude du créole martiniquais d'un point de vue de phonologie historique: Aspects méthodologiques. In: Colette, Feuillard (szerk.) Créoles : Langages et politiques linguistiques: Actes du XXVI Colloque International de Linguistique Fonctionelle, Peter Lang (2004) pp. 71-77.

Gulyás, A. (2018). Oktatható-e a műfordítás? Revue D'études Francaises, 22, 29-36.

Gulyás, A. (2020). Traduire la transgression verbale. Revue D'études Francaises, 24, 167-175.

Gulyás, A. (2021). Lexical creativity and humor in translation: On Rabelais’ linguistic genius and the difficulties in translating his works. Lexis - Journal in English Lexicology, 17: 5143.

Guscina, A. (2006). Effects of globalization on labor’s share in national income. IMF Working Paper 06/294).

Győrffy, B., Herman, P., & Szabó, I. (2020). Research funding: past performance is a stronger predictor of future scientific output than reviewer scores. Journal of Informetrics, 14, 101050.

Heilbron, J., Sora, G. & Boncourt, T. (2018). The social and human sciences in global power relations. Palgrave Macmillan.

Herschberg, C., Benschop, I., & Brink, M. (2018). Selecting early-career researchers: the influence of discourses of internationalisation and excellence on formal and applied selection criteria in academia. Higher Education, 76(5), 807–825.

Huff, T. (2003). The rise of early modern science. Cambridge University Press.

Ianoş, I., & Petrişor, A.I. (2020). An overview of the dynamics of relative research performance in Central-Eastern Europe using a ranking-based analysis derived from SCImago Data. Publications MDPI, 8(3), 1–25.

Jarvis, P. (2009). The Routledge international handbook of lifelong learning. Routledge.

Jin, B., Liang, L., Rousseau, R. et al. (2007). The R- and AR-indices: Complementing the h-index. Chinese Sci Bull, 52, 855–863.

Kaiser, K.A., & Pratt, T.C. (2016) Crystal ball or moneyball: Does publishing success during graduate school predict career publication productivity? Journal of Crime and Justice, 39(3), 438–454.

Karabarbounis, L., & Neiman, B. (2014). The global decline of the labor share. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 129(1), 61–103.

Kurambayev B., & Freedman, E. (2020). Publish or perish? The steep, steep path for Central Asia journalism and mass communication faculty. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, 76(2), 228–240.

Kuznets, S. (1955). Economic growth and income inequality. American Economic Review 45(1), 1–28.

Lillis, T., & Curry, M. J. (2010). Academic writing in a global context. The politics and practices of publishing in English. Routledge.

Locke W., & Freeman, R., & Rose, A. (2018). Early career social science researchers: experiences and support needs. Centre for Global Higher Education, UCL Institute of Education.

Maliniak, D., Peterson, S., Powers, R., & Tierney, M. J. (2018). Is international relations a global discipline? Hegemony, insularity, and diversity in the field. Security Studies, 27(3), 448–484.

Marginson, S. (2022). Global science and national comparisons: beyond bibliometrics and scientometrics. Comparative Education, 58(2), 125–146.

Marx, K. (2008) [1848]. Communist Manifesto. The Merlin Press.

Marx, K. (2011) [1867]. Capital, vol. 1. Penguin Books.

Merton, R. K. (1968). The Matthew effect in science. The reward and communication systems of science are considered. Science, 159, 56–63.

Musselin, C. (2004). Towards a European academic labour market? Some lessons drawn from empirical studies on academic mobility. Higher Education, 48, 55–78.

Nori, H., Peura, M., & Jauhiainen, A. (2020). From imposter syndrome to heroic tales: Doctoral students’ backgrounds, study aims, and experiences. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 15, 517–539.

Oancea, A. (2019). Research governance and the future(s) of research assessment. Palgrave Communications, 5, 27.

Pietrucha, J. (2018). Country-specific determinants of world university rankings. Scientometrics, 114, 1129–1139.

Piketty, T. (2017). Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Harvard University Press.

Plume, A., & Van Weijen, D. (2014). Publish or perish? The rise of the fractional author. Scholarly Communication, 3(38). Retrieved from

Prasetyo, P. E. (2020). Human capital as the main determinant of regional economic growth. International Journal of Advanced Science and Technology, 29(3), 6261–6267.

Rindermann, H. (2008). Relevance of education and intelligence at the national level for the economic welfare of people. Intelligence, 36 (2), 127–142.

Rossier, T. (2020). Accumulation and conversion of capitals in professorial careers. The importance of scientific reputation, network relations, and internationality in economics and business studies. High Educ, 80, 1061–1080.

Rowlands, J. (2018). Deepening understandings of Bourdieu’s academic and intellectual capital through a study of academic voice within academic governance. Studies in Higher Education, 43(11), 1823–1836.

Querioz de Barros, R. (2014). Changing research writing practice in Romania. Perceptions and attitudes. In K. Bennett (ed.) The semiperiphery of academic writing: Discourse, communities and practices (pp. 105–147). Palgrave Macmillan.

Rothenberger, L.T., Auer, C., & Pratt, C.B. (2017). Theoretical approaches to normativity in communication research. Communication Theory, 27, 176–201.

Salager-Meyer, F. (2008). Scientific publishing in developing countries. Challenges for the future. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 7, 121–132.

Sung, R., Erca Owen, E., & Li, Q. (2021). How do capital and labor split economic gains in an age of globalization? Review of International Political Economy, 28(1), 232–257.

Tomlinson, G., & Freeman, S. (2018). Who really selected you? Insights into faculty selection processes in top-ranked higher education graduate programmes. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 42(6), 855–867.

van Weert, T. J. (2006). Education of the twenty-first century: New professionalism in lifelong learning, knowledge development and knowledge sharing. Education and Information Technologies, 11(3), 217–237.

Wallerstein, I. (1991). Geopolitics and geoculture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Williamson, I. O., & Cable, D. M. (2013). Predicting early career research productivity: The case of management faculty. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 24, 25–44.

Zhu, Y., & Fu, K. W. (2019). The Relationship between interdisciplinarity and journal impact factor in the field of communication during 1997–2016. Journal of Communication, 69(3), 273–297.

Zetterströrm, R. (2004). The number of authors of scientific publications. Acta Pædiatrica, 93, 581–582.

Cómo citar
Demeter, M., Háló, G., & Rajkó, A. (2023). The Capital-Labor Problem in Academic Knowledge Production. Revista De La Asociación Española De Investigación De La Comunicación, 10(20), raeic102001.