1st Edition

Education and Social Mobility

Edited By Phillip Brown, Diane Reay, Carol Vincent Copyright 2016
    358 Pages
    by Routledge

    358 Pages
    by Routledge

    The study of education and social mobility has been a key area of sociological research since the 1950s. The importance of this research derives from the systematic analysis of functionalist theories of industrialism. Functionalist theories assume that the complementary demands of efficiency and justice result in more ‘meritocratic’ societies, characterized by high rates of social mobility. Much of the sociological evidence has cast doubt on this optimistic, if not utopian, claim that reform of the education system could eliminate the influence of class, gender and ethnicity on academic performance and occupational destinations.

    This book brings together sixteen cutting-edge articles on education and social mobility. It also includes an introductory essay offering a guide to the main issues and controversies addressed by authors from several countries. This comprehensive volume makes an important contribution to our theoretical and empirical understanding of the changing relationship between origins, education and destinations. This timely collection is also relevant to policy-makers as education and social mobility are firmly back on both national and global political agendas, viewed as key to creating fairer societies and more competitive economies.

    This book was originally published as a special issue of the British Journal of Sociology of Education.

    1. Education and social mobility Phillip Brown, Diane Reay and Carol Vincent

    2. Reflections on education and social mobility A.H. Halsey

    3. Social mobility, a panacea for austere times: tales of emperors, frogs, and tadpoles Diane Reay

    4. Education, opportunity and the prospects for social mobility Phillip Brown

    5. ‘Class work’: producing privilege and social mobility in elite US secondary schools Lois Weis and Kristin Cipollone

    6. Higher education, social class and the mobilisation of capitals: recognising and playing the game Ann-Marie Bathmaker, Nicola Ingram and Richard Waller

    7. Social mobility and post-compulsory education: revisiting Boudon’s model of social opportunity Ron Thompson and Robin Simmons

    8. The changing relationship between origins, education and destinations in the 1990s and 2000s Fiona Devine and Yaojun Li

    9. Framing higher education: questions and responses in the British Social Attitudes survey, 1983–2010 Anna Mountford-Zimdars, Steven Jones, Alice Sullivan and Anthony Heath

    10. Interrupted trajectories: the impact of academic failure on the social mobility of working-class students Tina Byrom and Nic Lightfoot

    11. Rural students’ experiences in a Chinese elite university: capital, habitus and practices He Li

    12. Cultural capital and distinction: aspirations of the ‘other’ foreign student I Lin Sin

    13. Meritocracy and the Gaokao: a survey study of higher education selection and socio-economic participation in East China Ye Liu

    14. Educational expansion and field of study: trends in the intergenerational transmission of educational inequality in the Netherlands Gerbert Kraaykamp, Jochem Tolsma and Maarten H.J. Wolbers

    15. The role of the school curriculum in social mobility Cristina Iannelli

    16. Three generations of racism: Black middle-class children and schooling Carol Vincent, Stephen Ball, Nicola Rollock and David Gillborn

    17. Resettling notions of social mobility: locating refugees as ‘educable’ and ‘employable’ Jill Koyama


    Phillip Brown is Distinguished Research Professor in the Cardiff School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, UK. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS) and the Learned Society of Wales (FLSW). He is a leading sociologist in the field of education, work and the global labour market. Since the late 1990s he has been studying economic globalisation and the new division of labour including path-breaking comparative studies that fundamentally challenged Western policy debates around skill formation, social justice and the knowledge economy. He also has a longstanding interest in graduate employability, social mobility and the sociology of talent.

    Diane Reay grew up in a working class, coal mining community before becoming an inner city primary school teacher for 20 years. She is now Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge, UK, with particular interests in social justice issues in education, Pierre Bourdieu’s social theory, and cultural analyses of social class. She has researched extensively in the areas of social class, gender and ethnicity across primary, secondary and post-compulsory stages of education. Her most recent book (with Gill Crozier and David James) is White Middle Class Identities and Urban Schooling (2011). She is currently writing a book on Education and the Working Classes in the 21st Century. As well as being an executive editor of British Journal of Sociology of Education, she is on the editorial boards of  the Journal of Education Policy and Cultural Sociology.

    Carol Vincent is Professor of Education at the Institute of Education, University College London, UK. She has written and researched extensively on families' relationships with educational institutions, and, in particular, how these are shaped by race and class. She co-authored The Colour of Class (2015) which explores the educational strategies of the Black Caribbean-origin middle classes. Other research interests include parenting, especially mothering, education policy, and 'super-diversity'. Her current ESRC project focuses on ‘Children and Adults' Friendships across Social Class and Ethnic Difference'.