Changing meanings of university teaching: The emotionalisation of academic culture in Russia, Israel and the US

Julia Lerner, Claudia Zbenovich, Tamar Kaneh-Shalit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, we reflexively focus our gaze on the global shift toward the emotionalisation of academic culture, taking the perspective of a university institution and its staff. We argue that emotional consumerism is fundamental to the current condition of academic teaching; it is embedded in its institutional agenda and shapes faculty’s subjective experiences. Our ethnographic analysis reveals also that understanding emotional academic capitalism requires a cross-cultural lens. Thus, we probe the meanings of teaching in three academic contexts – Russia, Israel and the US – tracing how local neoliberalism, cultural emotional communicative scripts and educational traditions, as well as political cultures, shape the emotionalisation of university teaching differently. Academic teaching in the US appears as care combined with fear; teaching in Israel is articulated as a therapeutic power struggle; while in Russia, teaching is interpreted as a peculiar combination of authoritative impersonalised services. This juxtaposition exposes different local manifestations of neoliberal emotional university discourse that merges therapeutic logic and its emotional language, reconfigures hierarchical relations, and integrates national political ethos into the act of teaching.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)73-93
Number of pages21
JournalEmotions and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Academic capitalism
  • Emotional-therapeutic culture
  • Linguistic cultural scripts

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Cultural Studies
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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