Skip to main content


Centre for Social Mobility Seminar series: Professor Steven Jones, University of Manchester

Explaining irrational behaviours in HE: Symbolic Violence, Stockholm Syndrome and the Ellsberg Paradox

The Centre for Social Mobility is delighted to welcome its first seminar speaker of 2020. We are delighted to host Professor Steven Jones, University of Manchester. Please come and join us for what promises to be a stimulating talk and some informal discussion afterwards!

Event details


Universities are the natural home of knowledge, as many an institutional vision statement attests. But the extent to which they are the natural home of wisdom is increasingly questioned in popular and media discourses. This paper attempts to map and explicate behaviours that appear illogical. I begin by presenting research into HE access that directly captures the voice of applicants, identifying market failures and unintended policy consequences at the point of entry. I then argue that HE admissions offers a useful microcosm to consider the sector more widely.  More so than at other education levels, local cultures, identities and behaviours are influenced by dominant discourses rather than by top-down directives or assessment frameworks. I therefore focus on the language with which universities are talked about rather than the policy through which they are regulated. I draw on various theoretical models – from psychology and economics, as well as from education – to explain the behaviours noted, concluding that the quasi-market in HE creates contradictions than cannot be reconciled without recourse to wider questions of professional identity and institutional culture.

Refreshments will be served following the talk until 12noon.

To find out more and to book your place at this seminar, please register via Eventbrite.

Read more about Professor Steven Jones