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The Tyranny of Transparency

Marilyn Strathern
British Educational Research Journal
Vol. 26, No. 3 (Jun., 2000), pp. 309-321
Published by: Wiley on behalf of BERA
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1501878
Page Count: 13
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The Tyranny of Transparency
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Abstract

What might an academic and a social anthropologist have to say about 'making the invisible visible'? Taking its title from a paper by Tsoukas ('The Tyranny of Light'), the result is a short excursus into the social world of accountability. Techniques for assessing, auditing and evaluating institutions are often defended on the grounds of transparency. What is interesting about this case is that in a social world where people are conscious of diverse interests, such an appeal to a benevolent or moral visibility is all too easily shown to have a tyrannous side-there is nothing innocent about making the invisible visible. How are we to understand such deliberate striving for transparency when it is applied, for instance, to research and teaching in higher education? This experimental account tries to avoid simply adding more visibility and more information.

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