The colonization of the lifeworld on Roskilde University: An analysis of the bureaucracy and it's consequences

Lasse Overgaard Frandsen, Lasse Sjøbeck Jørgensen & Jeppe Nexø Gjelstrup

Student thesis: Basic Project


This paper examines how Roskilde Universitet is governed. This is examined through two
opposing rules of governance: bureaucracy and communicative planning theory.
Jürgen Habermas’ theory about the system world’s colonization of the lifeworld makes up a
theoretical framework for how governance can be understood and what consequences it
has. Furthermore we use Ove Kaj Pedersen’s four ideals for the effective state to put the
development of the governance in a wider societal context.

The governance of RUC is examined through an analysis consisting of three parts.
In the first part, document analysis is used on a number of different documents to examine
whether a development takes place. The development in governance regulations from 1992
to 2017 is mapped through document analysis of part three in the Danish University Act. The
Study Progress Reform is examined in order to clarify the effect of one specific governance
initiative. Answers at hearings on both the Study Progress Reform and changes in the
Danish University Act is included to embrace different agents experience.
The second part of the analysis uses the development contracts that RUC signs with the
responsible ministry. The contracts are mapped in order to understand the development of
the governance of RUC. Interviews are conducted in order to understand how different
agents on RUC experience the governance and whether they feel included in a
consensus-building dialog concerning the purpose of the university.
The third part of the analysis summarises findings from the two previous based on
Pedersen’s ideals of the effective state.

The paper finds that the development in governance follows the ideals presented by
Pedersen, resultning in the colonization of the lifeworld by the system world, resulting in the
consequences mentioned above. The paper finds support of this assertion in the
development of the Danish University Act, that grows in volume, puts more specific
boundaries in place and priorities a centralization of power around the university board. The
same tendency is seen in the developmental contracts, that goes from broad strategies to
narrow goal oriented. The interview subjects also express an experience of the system world
taking priority over their lifeworld.

EducationsBasic - Bachelor Study Program in Social Science, (Bachelor Programme) Basic
Publication date28 May 2018
Number of pages60
SupervisorsJanus Mortensen