The New Social Mobility
How the Politicians Got It Wrong

Five: Tracing the origins


For three decades after the mid-1970s there were almost no new sociological surveys of mobility. In this vacuum, findings (or rather a distorted version of them) were repeated and cross-referenced in successive government reports. Given the misrepresentation and misunderstanding of mobility revealed in Chapter 4, this chapter traces how mistakes have been copied from one document to another. The Cabinet Office Strategy Unit’s online discussion, Getting on, getting ahead is identified as a key influence on all three governing parties’ policies, with its incorrect measurements, and neglect of downward mobility. The earlier ‘Aldridge reports’ (2004, 2006) although over-pessimistic about mobility rates, briefly provided a better account.

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