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Social Mobility and Education in Britain
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Book description

Building upon extensive research into modern British society, this book traces out trends in social mobility and their relation to educational inequalities, with surprising results. Contrary to what is widely supposed, Bukodi and Goldthorpe's findings show there has been no overall decline in social mobility – though downward mobility is tending to rise and upward mobility to fall - and Britain is not a distinctively low mobility society. However, the inequalities of mobility chances among individuals, in relation to their social origins, have not been reduced and remain in some respects extreme. Exposing the widespread misconceptions that prevail in political and policy circles, this book shows that educational policy alone cannot break the link between inequality of condition and inequality of opportunity. It will appeal to students, researchers, policy makers, and anyone interested in the issues surrounding social inequality, social mobility and education.


‘Bukodi and Goldthorpe quantify the key inequalities of the last thirty years. A person born into Britain's top class is twenty times more likely than a person born into the lower class to find a top-class job in adulthood. That was true in the 1970s and is still true today. Many will be surprised to learn that galloping income inequality did not tilt the odds further in favor of the privileged, nor could expanding education bring them closer to even. Bukodi and Goldthorpe argue persuasively that simple generalities about schooling will not make Britain more equal. Their last chapter discusses why policy must be much more disruptive if Britain is to become more socially mobile.'

Michael Hout - Director of Center for Advanced Social Science Research, New York University

‘The authors draw together results of a body of intergenerational research applying latest methods to extensive evidence, mainly from the British birth cohort studies, women as well as men. These insights are badly needed in view of the confusion about social mobility in the political sphere. The authors explain how relative class mobility is not 'going down', is not 'worse' than many other countries, and may be hindered rather than helped by education policies. They also point out that social fluidity is limited politically by parents' rights to pass on their position in an unequal structure.'

Heather Joshi - University of London

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