Social Mobility for the 21st Century: Everyone a Winner?, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Social Mobility for the 21st Century

Everyone a Winner?, 1st Edition

Edited by Steph Lawler, Geoff Payne


184 pages | 4 B/W Illus.

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Social Mobility for the 21st Century addresses experiences of social mobility, and the detailed processes through which entrenched, intergenerationally transmitted privilege is reproduced. Contributions include (but are not limited to) family relationships, students’ encounters with higher education, narratives of work careers, and ‘mobility identities’. The book intends to challenge both the framework of the more traditional approach, and the politicisation of mobility which casts ‘mobility’ as a possession, a commodity or a character trait, and threatens to castigate the ‘non-mobile’ as carrying a personal responsibility for their situation.

This book presents critical analyses of routes into social mobility, the experience of social mobility, and the political and social implications of social mobility’s ‘panacea’ status. Drawing on the work of established scholars and more recent entrants, the chapters offer a fresh look at social mobility, opening up the topic to a wider readership among the profession and beyond, and stimulating further debate. This book will appeal to higher level students and scholars of sociology alike, as well as having a broad cross-disciplinary appeal.


One of the key strengths of the book is its discussions of mobility experiences of typically under-researched groups and of mobility in differing contexts. Mallman’s chapter documents habitus development of working-class families in Melbourne, Australia; Gardner, Morrin, and Payne’s chapter explores care-leavers’ adaptable habitus in relation to their higher education experiences; Sohl focuses on the racialised and classed experiences of mobility in newly neoliberal Sweden, while Giazitzoglu provides insights into the mobility experiences of self-employed childless men. This widens the scope and appeal of the book to a variety of audiences both in and outside of the United Kingdom.

- Louise Folkes, Cardiff University, UK, Sociological Research Online

Table of Contents

Introduction: Everyone a Winner (Steph Lawler and Geoff Payne)

1. Social Mobility: which ways now? (Geoff Payne)

2. Disruption in the working-class family: the early origins of social mobility and habitus clivé (Mark Mallman)

3. Mobile Immobilites: the formation of habitus in ‘disadvantaged’ families (Maria Gardener, Kirsty Morrin and Geoff Payne)

4. Getting up and staying up: understanding social mobility over three generations in Britain (Vikki Boliver and Alice Sullivan)

5. Time, accumulation and trajectory: Bourdieu and social mobility (Sam Friedman and Mike Savage)

6. Moving on up? Social mobility, class and higher education (Harriet Bradley)

7. ‘To become upwardly mobile you have to be a Swede’: Women’s Upward Class Mobility in the neo-liberal Swedish Welfare State Context (Lena Sohl)

8. Experiencing Upward Mobility: the case of Self-employed Businessmen (Andreas Giazitzoglu)

9. Social mobility talk: class-making in neo-liberal times (Steph Lawler)

10. Promoting young people's social mobility: applying sociological perspectives to frame social policy objectives (Tony Chapman)

11. The Cruelty of Social Mobility: Individual success at the cost of collective failure (Diane Reay)

About the Editors

Steph Lawler is a Reader in Sociology at the University of York. Her work considers identities, not in categorical terms, but in terms of how identities become produced and reproduced, approved or disapproved. She has written widely on the ways in which various social ‘troubles’ rest on concerns about what kinds of persons there are and there should be. She is the author of Mothering the Self: Mothers, Daughters, Subjects and Identity: Sociological Perspectives, as well as articles and chapters on social mobility and, more widely, the social relations of class and gender.

Geoff Payne, FAcSS, is a Senior Research Associate at Newcastle University. He was Director of the Scottish Mobility Study at Aberdeen University in the mid-1970s, subsequently producing over fifty articles and five books on social mobility. His The New Social Mobility was published by Policy Press in January 2017. A former President of the BSA, and winner of the 2012 HEA National Award for Excellence in Teaching Sociology, he has been an advisor for the Ministry of Justice's Social Mobility Strategy. He has served on the Editorial Boards of several leading Sociology journals, and has edited a number of books including his widely used Social Divisions.

About the Series

Sociological Futures

Sociological Futures aims to be a flagship for new and innovative theories, methods and approaches to sociological issues and debates and ‘the social’ in the 21st century. This series of monographs and edited collections was inspired by vibrant wealth of BSA symposia on a wide variety of sociological themes. Edited by a team of experienced sociological researchers, and supported by the BSA, it covers a wide range of topics related to sociology and sociological research and will feature contemporary work that is theoretically and methodologically innovative, has local or global reach, as well as work that engages or reengages with classic debates in sociology bringing new perspectives to important and relevant topics.

The BSA is the professional association for sociologists and sociological research in the United Kingdom, with its extensive network of members, study groups and forums, and its dynamic programme of events. The Association engages with topics ranging from auto/biography to youth, climate change to violence against women, alcohol to sport, and Bourdieu to Weber. This book series represents the fruits of sociological enquiry, reaching a global audience, and offering a publication outlet for sociologists at all career and publishing stages, from the well-established to emerging sociologists, BSA or non-BSA members, from all parts of the world.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General