Eight: The emergence of a new society

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Criticism of the ‘traditional/modern society’ dichotomy does not mean the Fisher-Clark thesis of long-term, universal shifts from agriculture into manufacturing, and then into service industries, can be ignored. Although ‘services’ is an unsatisfactory category, ‘occupational transition’ has shrunk manual, manufacturing employment and expanded white collar work. Because the parents’ generation were less middle class than their offspring are, this provided necessary but not sufficient conditions for rising upward mobility rates. This chapter illustrates British changes 1911-2011, with more detailed consideration of the period 1997-2014 showing the underlying occupational transition concept needs reformulation to allow for gender differences. It concludes that the expansion of the middle class following the Welfare State later constricts opportunities: advantaged children become the more advantaged new parents’ generation. The mobility gap begins to tighten.

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