Student complaints: Performative or passionate utterances?

Amanda Fulford, Claire Skea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In a well-documented case from late 2016, Oxford University graduate, Faiz Siddiqui, sued his alma mater, claiming that the “appallingly bad tuition ”he received cost him the first-class degree that he felt he should have received. In tracing how the rise in such complaints seems ineluctably linked to the increasing commodification of the sector, we ask what it means for a student to express her voice within the university. In doing this, we draw a contrast between the (safety of the) formal procedures to which many students resort when making a complaint, and the possibilities of addressing issues in a face-to-face encounter. To understand the differences in these two approaches, we make an unusual move to consider the work of J. L Austin (1962). We then outline Stanley Cavell’s criticisms of the formal procedures that underlie such utterances. We suggest that a commitment to passionate utterance along Cavellian lines, highlights not only the place of emotion in a complaint, but also the responsibility, and answerability, of each party to the other.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-75
JournalPhilosophy and Theory in Higher Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • student complaints
  • Cavell
  • Austin
  • passionate utterance
  • performatives


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