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Contextualizing rationality: Mature student carers and higher education in England

Gonzalez-Arnal, Stella; Kilkey, Majella


Majella Kilkey


In England, the Government has implemented policies to increase and diversify participation in higher education (HE). Changes in funding arrangements that shift the burden of paying for education from the state to individuals have also been introduced. To reconcile the contradiction between widening participation and the individualization of the costs of study, HE is being framed as a risk-free and individualized financial investment. Informed by critiques from feminist economics and the philosophy of rational economic man, this paper argues that the government's HE policies are permeated by a narrow concept of reason and presuppose highly individualized, instrumental, and economic actors. Drawing on the findings from two studies conducted at the University of Hull, this paper demonstrates how this understanding of human behavior is incongruent with the experiences of one group of students-mature student carers-whose life choices are informed by their caring responsibilities.


Gonzalez-Arnal, S., & Kilkey, M. (2009). Contextualizing rationality: Mature student carers and higher education in England. Feminist economics, 15(1), 85-111.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 1, 2008
Online Publication Date Feb 17, 2009
Publication Date 2009-01
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Journal Feminist Economics
Print ISSN 1354-5701
Electronic ISSN 1466-4372
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 15
Issue 1
Article Number PII 908750857
Pages 85-111
Keywords Economics and Econometrics; General Business, Management and Accounting; Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous); Gender Studies
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