Factors Influencing Social Mobility

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Department for Work and Pensions Research Report No 450

Factors influencing social mobility
Dr. Alex Nunn, Dr. Steve Johnson, Dr. Surya Monro, Dr. Tim Bickerstaffe and Sarah Kelsey

A report of research carried out by the Policy Research Institute on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions

Corporate Document Services

© Crown Copyright 2007. Published for the Department for Work and Pensions under licence from the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office by Corporate Document Services, Leeds. Application for reproduction should be made in writing to The Copyright Unit, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, St Clements House, 2-16 Colegate, Norwich NR3 1BQ. First Published 2007.

ISBN

978 1 84712 237 7

Views expressed in this report are not necessarily those of the Department for Work and Pensions or any other Government Department.

Printed by Corporate Document Services.

Contents

iii

Contents
Acknowledgements ......................................................................................... vii The Authors .....................................................................................................viii Summary ...........................................................................................................1 1 2 Introduction .................................................................................................5 Policy and social context ..............................................................................7 2.1 2.2 2.3 Summary ...........................................................................................7 Introduction .......................................................................................7 The social and economic context .......................................................8 2.3.1 2.3.2 2.3.3 2.4 Globalprocessesofeconomicchange.................................8 StructuralchangeandthelabourmarketintheUK.............8 Trendsinpovertyandinequality..........................................9

The policy context: public policy since 1997 .......................................9 2.4.1 2.4.2 Background........................................................................9 . Recentpolicyinterestinsocialmobility..............................10

3

The concept of social mobility ....................................................................13 3.1 3.2 3.3 Summary .........................................................................................13 Introduction .....................................................................................14 A general definition .........................................................................14

iv

Contents

3.4

Trends in, and debates on, social mobility in the UK .........................16 3.4.1 3.4.2 3.4.3 Thesociologicaltradition ..................................................17 . Theeconomictradition.....................................................19 . Definitionsofclassandsocialstratification........................21

3.5 3.6 4

International comparisons: contextualising the British experience .....25 Social mobility, economic growth and competitiveness .....................26

Social capital, cultural and social mobility ...................................................29 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Summary .........................................................................................29 Introduction .....................................................................................30 Social capital....................................................................................30 Cultural capital ................................................................................33

5

Families, aspirations and the early years .....................................................35 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 Summary...
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