The New Social Mobility
How the Politicians Got It Wrong

One: ‘There’s a lot of it about’


Academic mobility analysts, who until very recently have looked at national rates rather than at the personal experience and consequences of being mobile and immobile, have tended to emphasise the constraints on mobility. Politicians want more upward mobility, not the downward mobility this would also inevitably involve. Many proposals for policies to improve mobility rates following the political re-discovery of mobility still ultimately depend on individualistic explanations, but recent surveys have shown that around three quarters of British adults have been intergenerationally socially mobile (that is, when downward mobility is included) as conventionally measured across seven social classes. Whether these ‘classes’ are seen as a set of categories, or a system of inter-connected advantages and disadvantage, by definition there have to be ‘losers’ in the mobility race.

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