8: Stigma and Shame

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Chapter 7 explored the experiences of young working class aspirant City workers as they engaged in organizational social mobility programmes. Chapter 8 considers what happens next, as many attempt to secure a permanent graduate role. During initial introductions to the City they are immersed in the meritocratic myth but as they take part in graduate recruitment processes they realize they have been sold highly partial truths. Many experience stigma and shame, especially through painful everyday encounters that suggest that their very presence in the City elicits disgust. Following sociologist Imogen Tyler, the chapter focuses on the political function of stigma, to show how stigma ensures the boundaries of elite professions are managed and contained, so that people who threaten the ‘respectability’ of these jobs are kept out and ‘in their place’.

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Highly Discriminating
Why the City Isn’t Fair and Diversity Doesn’t Work
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