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Cumulative Inequalities over the Life-Course: Life-long Learning and Social Mobility in Britain

  • ERZSÉBET BUKODI (a1)

Abstract

This paper examines the possibility that life-long learning promotes intergenerational class mobility. The following two research questions are asked. Is it the case that further education provides individuals coming from less advantaged origins with a second chance to improve on their educational attainment? Is it the case that the returns to further qualifications, in terms of chances of upward class career mobility, are greater for children from less advantaged backgrounds than for children from more advantaged backgrounds? The analyses – that are based on the complete educational and class histories of men and women in a British birth cohort – mainly produce negative findings. Children coming from managerial and professional backgrounds seem to benefit most from further education. More specifically, further education appears to be an effective means of career advancement for individuals of managerial and professional origins who start out in their working lives in relatively low-level class positions. Via further education they can increase or update their qualifications, and in turn enhance their chances of being counter-mobile back to their class of origin. Overall, based on the findings of this paper, we can conclude that qualifications attained through life-long learning primarily serve to maintain, rather than to narrow, inequalities attached to social origins in Britain.

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References

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