EDEV_505 Week 5_6

If I may join in this discussion briefly, I’d like to respond to Dr B’s question about signing the UoL Academic Integrity Declaration. There are a number of things going on here, some of which are strongly culturally biased. I’ll sketch out two related issues; that of the litigious nature in certain geopolitical areas, and that of cultural imperialism.

The UK, home of UoLiverpool, is a litigious society having been subject to the rule of law (in England at least) since the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 (Bingham, 2011). The rule of law expresses fundamentally democratic values whose principles have informed the US constitution, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 (Bingham, 2011). There is a difference, though, between being based in law and the number of civil cases brought to the law courts. The recourse to the law to settle disputes is a separate issue from having those laws in the first place. Japan is founded upon the primacy of legal principles, but unlike either the UK and the US, the “I’ll see you in court” mentality (Townsend, 2013) is rarely found. Townsend (2013) points to the precautionary nature of many legal statutes in daily life, an attitude that is now increasingly being articulated in higher education (Helyer, 2011). Rather than delve into the various issues implied by these attitudes (e.g. valuing trust over legal security, placing importance in negotiating meaning personally instead of entrusting one’s position to a lawyer and esteeming the products of democracy [i.e. the legal statutes] more than the products of social capital building), I will only ask you to consider this: is it possible that the notion of using the law courts in the way Townsend reports is a socially constructed, culture-based activity that has taken root in the Anglosphere that can be argued to be structurally meaningless (because the law is in place irrespective of how the law is used)?

If so, there may be the argument that the UofLiverpool is acting both according to the social mores (i.e. UK-based social normative behaviour) and simultaneously being culturally imperialist by enforcing a non-legal but university-internal regulatory system onto citizens of other nations, residing in other nations, bound by the customs of the other nations (not to mention the laws). Clicking the Academic Integrity Declaration (AID) was laughable to me. It signalled a set of values that are alien. I fail to see how ‘declaring my integrity’ makes my integrity more meaningful. When a student breaks the rules, they will suffer the consequence irrespective of having signed/ clicked the document. If not clicking equals non admission, would the admissions office be immoral by not returning the fees? Would they even do that? Does refusing to click signal one’s intention to lose their integrity? The AID is an artifact, using Schein’s classification, a visible process of an organisation(Schein, 2004), that contains underlying assumptions. However, exactly what they are in this case is either imperialistic or meaningless. I showed the university my integrity when I joined the course. That is enough in Japan. Of course, I click away and of course I have absolutely no intention of cheating.


P.S. I don’t feel strongly about this at all. I’m just making the point.

Bingham, T. (2011). The Rule of Law. London: Penguin Books.

Helyer, R. (2011). Aligning higher education with the world of work. Higher Education, Skills and Work, 1(2), 95–105.

Schein, E. H. (2004). Organizational Culture and Leadership (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. http://doi.org/10.1080/09595230802089917

Townsend, E. (2013). Litigious Societies: A Comparison between the UK and the US. The Student Lawyer. Retrieved May 11, 2016 from http://thestudentlawyer.com/2013/12/23/litigious-societies-a-comparison-between-the-uk-and-the-us/

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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