2: Reputation and Respect


This chapter examines the origins of the meritocratic myth by tracing a (very) brief history of the City over the twentieth century and exploring continuity and change in its demographics. It shows that following an upper-class past where access to the City depended on family connections and did not require qualifications, deregulation in 1986 ushered in numerous changes, including a more comprehensive move toward graduate-only entry, which suggested that entry was available to any body, on the basis of ability and effort. In practice, the impact on the City’s demographics was limited, but this chapter shows how this myth continued to circulate, often relying on the elevation of working class entrants into the City as legendary figures, and was deployed by financial and professional elites to legitimate their growing financial and symbolic rewards.

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