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ERIC Number: EJ811101
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Feb
Pages: 9
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 28
ISSN: ISSN-1598-1037
Competence: Commodification of Human Ability
Han, Soonghee
Asia Pacific Education Review, v9 n1 p31-39 Feb 2008
The purpose of this article is to analyze the meaning and presumptions of competence in the concrete context of knowledge capitalism. First, the nature of competence as a "commodification of human ability" that obtains a standardized monetary value to sell in the labor market, is elucidated by applying Karl Marx's critical theory. Second, it is further investigated that, in the new context of the global learning economy, the production of the competence as a commodity itself becomes a key industry, representing itself a crucial "sub-system" of knowledge capitalism. Third, this paper explains how competence discourse has a great deal to do with the current drastic changes in the educational paradigm from "nation-state education" to "global learning economy". These changes are illustrated by how traditional school subject-based curricula are replaced by competency-based curricula, academic qualifications integrated into a unified form of qualification framework, and school achievement is evaluated according to the "demanded workplace competence". It is also argued that human competencies by nature have "double-bind" characteristics: while it is pushed to meet the demands as knowledge commodities, human beings themselves are beyond any notion of tradability, and the new capitalism based on human commodities, if any, should reveal new rules to play the game.
Education Research Institute, Seoul National University. Department of Education, 599 Kwanak-Ro, Kwanak-Gu, Seoul 151-748, South Korea. Tel: +82-2-880-5896; Fax: +82-2-889-6508; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A