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The relevance of aggression and the aggression of relevance: The rise of the accreditation marketing machine

Anthony Lowrie (School of Business, Minnesota State University, Moorhead, Minnesota, USA)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 16 May 2008




The purpose of this paper is to illustrate how language functions to construct relevance at moments of articulation and how language functions as an aggressive marketing practice to promote a self‐regulated (production‐oriented) system of accreditation.


Drawing on the political theory of Laclau and Lacanian psychoanalytical theory of desire and aggressivity, a linguistic case study is used to illustrate the construction and promotion of accreditation and relevance.


Aggressive competitive behavior in the area of higher education accreditation sets up inter‐institutional antagonisms at the local and global level which may prove socially divisive and restrict the distribution of knowledge for the social good with the possible implication of restricting economic growth for competitively weaker countries.

Research limitations/implications

The micro analysis of language restricts the size of the data set considered in a single article.

Practical implications

Stakeholders of higher education institutions may wish to consider the strategic implications of accreditation beyond inter‐institution rivalry.


Methodologically, this paper provides an innovative application of political, psychoanalytical and linguistic theory. Empirically, the paper provides new insights into the accreditation of higher education.



Lowrie, A. (2008), "The relevance of aggression and the aggression of relevance: The rise of the accreditation marketing machine", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 352-364.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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