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Andy Walker

Social Mobility

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I thought it might be useful for my students to hear about the experiences of some of the older members of the forum regarding this topic.

They (my students) have to study social mobility as part of their stratification and differentiation unit of their A Level Sociology.

We would be particularly interested to hear peoples reflections on the experience and causes of the apparently significant upward mobility of the 50's and 60's generation.

Depending on the response I may invite the students to come online to ask questions like we did earlier with the Ideology material.

Thanks in advance to anyone who feels they can participate

http://www.educationforum.co.uk/sociology_2/socialmob.htm

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I thought it might be useful for my students to hear about the experiences of some of the older members of the forum regarding this topic.

They (my students) have to study social mobility as part of their stratification and differentiation unit of their A Level Sociology.

We would be particularly interested to hear peoples reflections on the experience and causes of the apparently significant upward mobility of the 50's and 60's generation.

Depending on the response I may invite the students to come online to ask questions like we did earlier with the Ideology material.

Thanks in advance to anyone who feels they can participate

http://www.educationforum.co.uk/sociology_2/socialmob.htm

Sounds like an ideal situation for a blog of some kind?

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My brother has done a fair bit of research into the families of our parents: Simkin/Hughes.

In both cases they have been locked into the working class. In some cases they moved from unskilled to semi-skilled. By the time I was born my father was an unskilled factory worker (my mother stopped work once the children were born but had been a semi-skilled factory worker). Both my parents had shown promise at school but had been forced to leave at 14 (their families needed their wages).

We were all educated at a secondary school on a council estate. My sister and I at 15 and my younger brother at 16. We all did working class jobs but all returned to education and eventually got degrees and middle-class jobs – two teachers and a social worker.

The reason for this is the expansion of the economy in the 1960s and early 1970s. This meant they needed to recruit people from the working-classes to do middle class jobs. This was a time of high social mobility. This is not true today.

The three of us had four children between us. They have all received a middle-class upbringing. Two went to university and obtained middle class jobs. The other two did badly at school and have struggled to achieve this.

Class mobility is clearly closely linked to education and the needs of the economy.

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My father was an electrician and my mother a nurse so I guess me being a teacher suggests some minor upward mobility across a generation. My generation was certainly the first in my family to go to University. Both my two sisters and I and had very little choice in the matter - both my parents (especially my mother) were determined that we should all be University educated. This pattern has been replicated with most of my cousins in my extended family.

I was also very lucky to go to University at a time (1980's) when working class students were given maintenance grants by the State rather than opportunities to build up big debts like today. I also benefited from local factors. Being from the Isle of Man which has a separate legal, political and financial identity from the UK I benefited from a more generous grant than my colleagues from the UK. I also found that when I graduated I was able to continue my studies to Masters Level as the Isle of Man government continued to fund all students who could achieve a place on a suitable program. This was definitely not the case for UK students

I therefore agree with John Simkin that one of the keys to social mobility is education. I also contend that with the abolition of maintenance grants and their replacement with loans social mobility has become more difficult. I wonder if my parents would have been able to sustain the financial hardships of sending 3 children to University parents today have to face.

The mobility I have described however is not much and I would question whether it is evidence of a truely meritocratic society. Essentially aren't I just a slightly higher paid worker than my father was?

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