Michael Adrian Peters

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Michael Adrian Peters is Professor of Education at the University of Waikato, New Zealand and Emeritus Professor in Educational Policy, Organization, and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. He is the executive editor of the journal, Educational Philosophy and Theory, and editor of three international ejournals, Policy Futures in Education, E-Learning and Digital Media, and Knowledge Cultures. His interests are in education, philosophy and social policy, and he has written over sixty books. He is a lifelong Fellow of the New Zealand Academy of Humanities, an Honorary Member of the New Zealand Royal Society, and a life member of the Society for Research in higher Education (UK), and the Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia


Peters holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature and an honors degree in Geography from Victoria University of Wellington, and Masters and PhD from the University of Auckland. His PhD was in the Philosophy of Education with a thesis on the philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein. He was also awardwed a D. Litt, (honoris causa) from the State University of New York.

Research and interests[edit]

His research interests are in educational philosophy, theory and policy studies with a focus on the significance of both contemporary philosophers (Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Heidegger) and the movements of poststructuralism, critical theory and analytic philosophy to the framing of educational theory and practice. He is also interested in philosophical and political economy questions of knowledge production and consumption. His major current projects include work on distributed knowledge, learning and publishing systems, and 'open education'. He has acted as an advisor to government on these and related matters in Scotland, NZ, South Africa and the EU.

His recent writing and scholarly activity revolves around two main areas of academic interest: contemporary philosophy (critical theory, poststructuralism, hermeneutics, and analytic philosophy) with a particular interest in philosophy of education, and; the politics of education and social policy, with an accent on the reform of welfare policy. The two areas of interest inform each other.In the first category Peters develops a distinctive poststructuralist approach in philosophy and education. The deepest influences upon his thinking and writing include Friedrich Nietzsche, the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, and the French poststructuralist philosopher, Jean-François Lyotard. These philosophers, he clainms, teach us how to think or philosophize in the postmodern condition, in an age when the grand récits or metanarratives have lost their legitimating power. They provide a positive philosophical response to nihilism and to the fragmentation and dissolution of Western culture. For these thinkers also the question of the style of philosophy is paramount and it is productive to approach their philosophies as a kind of writing. Both Nietzsche and Wittgenstein adopt many different literary forms, sometimes within the same work. Beyond Good and Evil ends with the aftersong "From High Mountains" and it includes epigrams and interludes; the Philosophical Investigations is at once dialogical, confessional, and aphoristic.

His publications reflect the influence of these writers. Education and the Postmodern Condition and Poststructuralism, Politics and Education, among other things, examine the work of Lyotard, while Wittgenstein: Philosophy, Postmodernism and Pedagogy, a co-authored book (with James Marshall) attempts to bridge the continental/analytic divide by interpreting the work of Anglo-American Wittgensteinians (e.g., Richard Rorty, Stanley Cavell, Stephen Toulmin) alongside that of prominent ‘poststructuralist' thinkers (e.g., Lyotard, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida).

In recent years Peters has focused on political economy of forms of the knowledge economy with the aim of expanding the understanding of current and future possibilities based around concepts of inniovation and the learning economy, creative economy, and the open knowledge economy (based on open education and open science). Starting in 2006 with the book "Building Knowledge Cultures" (with Tina Besley), a trilogy of books with Simon Marginson and Peter Murphy on creativity and the global knowledge economy, education and the creative economy with Daniel Araya, digital labor and the cognitive economy (with Ergin Bulut), and creative universities (with Tina Besley) he has begun to chart a theory of co(labor)ation informed by three aspects: social media, social production and social labor.

Professional appointments[edit]

Peters is Professor of Education at Waikato University, New Zealand where he co-directs the Global Studies in Education Program.[1] He is Emeritus Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Adjunct Professor in the School of Art, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia and at the School of Foreign Studies, Guangzhou University, China. He has also attained a teaching diploma and taught in New Zealand high schools for seven years. He previously held a personal chair at the University of Auckland, NZ (2000–03) and was Research Professor at the University of Glasgow, UK (2000–05), as well as numerous posts as adjunct and visiting professor. He is the executive editor of Educational Philosophy and Theory (Blackwell) and editor of two international ejournals, Policy Futures in Education and E-Learning (both with Symposium) and sits on the editorial board of over fifteen international journals.


His most recent books include:

Education, Philosophy and Politics: Selected Works of Michael A. Peters (Routledge, 2012)

In the World Library of Educationalists series, international experts themselves compile career-long collections of what they judge to be their finest pieces - extracts from books, key articles, salient research findings, major theoretical and/practical contributions - so the world can read them in a single manageable volume. Michael A. Peters has spent the last 30 years researching, thinking and writing about some of the key and enduring issues in education. He has contributed over 60 books (authored, co-authored and edited) and 500 articles to the field. In Education, Philosophy and Politics, Michael A. Peters brings together 15 of his key writings in one place, including chapters from his best-selling books and articles from leading journals. Starting with a specially written Introduction, which gives an overview of Michael's career and contextualises his selection, the essays are then arranged thematically to create a pathway of a way of thinking in philosophy of education which is forward looking but takes account of tradition and the past.

Cognitive Capitalism, Education and Digital Labor (Peter Lang, 2011)

Cognitive capitalism - sometimes referred to as 'third capitalism,' after mercantilism and industrial capitalism - is an increasingly significant theory, given its focus on the socio-economic changes caused by Internet and Web 2.0 technologies that have transformed the mode of production and the nature of labor. The theory of cognitive capitalism has its origins in French and Italian thinkers, particularly Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari'sCapitalism and Schizophrenia, Michel Foucault's work on the birth of biopower and Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's Empire and Multitude, as well as the Italian Autonomist Marxist movement that had its origins in the Italian operaismo (workerism) of the 1960s. In this collection, leading international scholars explore the significance of cognitive capitalism for education, especially focusing on the question of digital labor.

The Virtues of Openness: Education, Science and Scholarship in the Digital Age (Paradigm, 2011)

The movement toward greater openness represents a change of philosophy, ethos, and government and a set of interrelated and complex changes that transform markets altering the modes of production and consumption, ushering in a new era based on the values of openness: an ethic of sharing and peer-to-peer collaboration enabled through new architectures of participation. These changes indicate a broader shift from the underlying industrial mode of production, productionis metaphysics to a postindustrial mode of consumption as use, reuse, and modification where new logics of social media structure different patterns of cultural consumption and symbolic analysis becomes a habitual and daily creative activity. The economics of openness constructs a new language of presuming and produsage in order to capture the open participation, collective co-creativity, communal evaluation, and commons-based production of social and public goods. Information is the vital element in the „new‰ˇ politics and economy that links space, knowledge, and capital in networked practices and freedom is the essential ingredient in this equation if these network practices are to develop or transform themselves into 'knowledge cultures'. The Virtues of Openness investigates the social processes and policies that foster openness as an overriding educational value evidenced in the growth of open source, open access, and open education and their convergences that characterize global knowledge communities. The book argues that openness seems also to suggest political transparency and the norms of open inquiry, indeed, even democracy itself as both the basis of the logic of inquiry and the dissemination of its results.

Neoliberalism and After? Education, Social Policy and the Crisis of Western Capitalism (Peter Lang, 2011)

The era that began with the election of the Thatcher and Reagan governments has been dominated by contemporary forms of neoliberalism-based market fundamentalism, globalization as world economic integration and the ideology of 'free trade,' and an attack on 'big' government and social welfare. This book is a historical and theoretical investigation of contemporary neoliberalism in relation to education policy and its rollback of the Keynesian welfare state. It argues that education is the basis of an open society and is a social welfare right in the merging knowledge economy. Drawing on the theoretical lens of Michel Foucault's work on governmentality understood as a form of radical political economy, the book explores and critiques neoliberalism as the ruling ideological consensus. It also questions whether and to what extent its influence will continue, in the face of the destabilization of markets that followed the financial crisis and the global recession that began in 2007, in the advanced liberal economies of the United States and the European Union.

The Last Book of Postmodernism: Apocalyptic Thinking, Philosophy and Education in the Twenty-first Century (Peter Lang, 2011)

The Last Book of Postmodernism comprises set of essays written on and about postmodernism and education. It is written in an apocalyptic tone that treats themes of religion and spiritualism, drawing on poststructuralist sources of inspiration, to contrast the present postmodern condition and the philosophical significance and historical influence of Nietzsches statement God is dead. The book considers the meaning of the end of Christendom and the prospect of global spirituality. It also considers the end of literature and the beginning of user-generated cultures and the implications of this shift for education and the philosophical model of dialogue that has dominated the humanities in the West. It charts the end of philosophy and the rise of body criticism, the promise of the Enlightenment, the relation between education, power and freedom, geophilosophy and the pedagogy of the concept, and the narrative turn as a basis for a new critical language for educational studies. Finally, the book considers post-postmodernism and the end of the linguistic turn in educational theory.

Additional books include:

Education, Science and Knowledge Capitalism (Peter Lang, 2013)

Creativity and the Global Knowledge Economy Michael A. Peters, Simon Marginson, and Peter Murphy (Peter Lang, 2008)

Subjectivity and Truth: Foucault, Education, and the Culture of Self Michael A. Peters and Tina Besley (Peter Lang, 2007)

Building Knowledge Cultures: Education in the Age of Knowledge Capitalism Peters, M.A. with Tina Besley (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006)

Poststructuralism and Educational Research: Philosophy, Theory, and Educational Research Series Michael A. Peters & Nicholas C. Burbules (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004)

Poststructuralism, Marxism, and Neoliberalism: Between Theory and Politics Michael A. Peters (Rowman and Littlefield, 2001)

Wittgenstein: Philosophy, Postmodernism, Pedagogy Michael A. Peters & J.D. Marshall (Bergin and Garvey, 1999)

Poststructuralism, Politics and Education Michael A. Peters (Bergin and Garvey, 1996)

Individualism and Community: Education and Social Policy in the Postmodern Condition Michael A. Peters and James D. Marshall (Falmer Press, 1996).

Counternarratives: Cultural Studies and Critical Pedagogies in Postmodern Spaces Henry A. Giroux, Peter McLaren, Colin Lankshear, and Michael A. Peters (Routledge, 1996).

Selected Papers Online

Henry Giroux on Democracy Unsettled: From Critical Pedagogy to the War on Youth, Truthout, Monday 29 August 2011,

White Philosophy in/of America, Special Issue on The Roots of Rorty's Philosophy, Pragmatism Today 2 (1) Summer, 2011: 144-154;

Education, Creativity and the Economy of Passions: New Forms of Educational Capitalism (Thesis Eleven)

Ecopolitics of the Green Economy: Environmentalism and Education, Economics, Management and Financial Markets, 4 (3): 1-15. Reprinted in The Journal of Academic Research in Economics, 2010, vol. 2, issue 1 (May), pages 21–36, 2010

The Idea of Openness, 2010, Encyclopedia of Philosophy of Education

The Changing Architecture of Global Science, Policy Brief and Occasional Paper (long version), Center for Global Studies, University of Illinois, 2009

Education and the Culture of Openness: New Architectures of Collaboration, Conference on Education, Culture and the Knowledge Economy Friday, June 6, 2008.

Obama's America: Automobilism, Americanism and the End of Fordism, Policy Futures in Education, 2009, 7(2), 266-270

Citizenship in an Age of Globalization, Global-e, A Global Studies Journal, 2008, 1 (3), February

Information, Globalization and Democracy: The Utopian Moment?, Global-e, A Global Studies Journal, 2008, 2 (1), May

Wittgenstein, Education and the Philosophy of Mathematics, Theory and Science, 3 (3), 2002

(Posts-) Modernism and Structuralism: Affinities and Theoretical Innovations, Sociological Research Online, vol. 4, no. 3, 1999


External links[edit]