Skip to main content

The consumerist turn in higher education: Policy aspirations and outcomes

Buy Article:

$53.17 plus tax (Refund Policy)


Insights from the marketing and education literature are combined to analyse government rationales and mechanisms related to the positioning of contemporary students as consumers and to assess the impact on the process and outcomes of education, on the professional practices of faculty and on widening participation. Pierre Bourdieu's conceptual framework is applied to analyse how consumer mechanisms are mediated by the organisational cultures and practices within universities. These theoretical insights are combined with data from different national contexts to indicate positive outcomes. However, the organisational context of higher education, gamesmanship and outdated marketing relations have also led to the opposite of what policy makers have aspired to. We show how consumerism also promotes passive learning, threatens academic standards, and entrenches academic privilege. The paper contributes to scholarship on consumerism in sectors which are subject to changing relations between state regulation and market forces, and offers policy and management insights.

Keywords: Pierre Bourdieu; consumerism; higher education; marketisation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Bath, UK 2: University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Publication date: October 1, 2011

More about this publication?

Access Key

Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Partial Open Access Content
Partial Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more