The seven new ways to measure social mobility

Let’s admit it, in the UK, we are obsessed with class. The supermarket you shop in, the newspaper you read, where you go on holiday and where you went to school, can all lead to assumptions regarding social standing. Class, until now was separated into three neat categories; working class, middle class and upper class. But things have moved on from the ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ era and as a result sociologists have now acknowledged a more complex society that includes seven social classes.

The seven categories represent a class structure in this country that is much more dynamic with increasing levels of social mobility. Being born the son of a fisherman doesn’t mean that you can’t become the head of a highly lucrative motorsport association, as was the case with F1 boss, Bernie Ecclestone.

Arguably the least class conscious people are children. State schools can be a melting pot of children from different backgrounds, ethnicities and class.

While the hope is that children born into the most deprived groups, now known as the Precariat, (precarious proletariat) will exceed expectations of their social class and go on to be successful in both work and life, there is still much work to be done. While there are huge societal inequalities that need to be addressed before social mobility can be achieved, much of the onus falls on schools and colleges as this is something that the government can control more easily. This may be a heavy weight for schools to bear but there is evidence to suggest that schools really do play an integral role in narrowing the gap in achievement.

The Association of School and College Leaders has recently published a practical guide which is intended to act as a toolkit to help schools create effective strategies to improve outcomes for disadvantaged pupils. The guide has been designed so that even schools in the most challenging circumstances can act to close the performance gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. The guide asserts that a successful strategy for raising attainment should involve a strong culture of high expectations.  From the head teacher to the pupils, an aspiration to excel must inform every aspect of the school, from staff appraisals to pupil targets. The guide reinforces that schools need to create a culture of no excuses and challenge attitudes that a child from a particular estate or family is restricted to a future of low achievement.

While there will always be people who are born into privilege and others born into poverty, education still gives people the best chance to break out of class stereotypes.  The introduction of seven new classes acknowledges that the social make-up of the UK is more layered and evolving than it was several decades ago. That has to be a good thing.

Let’s admit it, in the UK, we are obsessed with class. The supermarket you shop in, the newspaper you read, where you go on holiday and where you went to school, can all lead to assumptions regarding social standing. Class, until now was separated into three neat categories; working class, middle class and upper class. But things have moved on from the ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ era and as a result sociologists have now acknowledged a more complex society that includes seven social classes.

The seven categories represent a class structure in this country that is much more dynamic with increasing levels of social mobility. Being born the son of a fisherman doesn’t mean that you can’t become the head of a highly lucrative motorsport association, as was the case with F1 boss, Bernie Ecclestone.

Arguably the least class conscious people are children. State schools can be a melting pot of children from different backgrounds, ethnicities and class.

While the hope is that children born into the most deprived groups, now known as the Precariat, (precarious proletariat) will exceed expectations of their social class and go on to be successful in both work and life, there is still much work to be done. While there are huge societal inequalities that need to be addressed before social mobility can be achieved, much of the onus falls on schools and colleges as this is something that the government can control more easily. This may be a heavy weight for schools to bear but there is evidence to suggest that schools really do play an integral role in narrowing the gap in achievement.

The Association of School and College Leaders has recently published a practical guide which is intended to act as a toolkit to help schools create effective strategies to improve outcomes for disadvantaged pupils. The guide has been designed so that even schools in the most challenging circumstances can act to close the performance gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. The guide asserts that a successful strategy for raising attainment should involve a strong culture of high expectations.  From the head teacher to the pupils, an aspiration to excel must inform every aspect of the school, from staff appraisals to pupil targets. The guide reinforces that schools need to create a culture of no excuses and challenge attitudes that a child from a particular estate or family is restricted to a future of low achievement.

While there will always be people who are born into privilege and others born into poverty, education still gives people the best chance to break out of class stereotypes.  The introduction of seven new classes acknowledges that the social make-up of the UK is more layered and evolving than it was several decades ago. That has to be a good thing.

The 7 new classes (according to the BBC Lab study):

  • Elite – The most privileged class. High level of all three capitals (economic, cultural and social).
  • Established middle class – High levels of all three capitals but not as high as Elite. Gregarious and culturally engaged.
  • Technical middle class – New, small class with high economic capital but less culturally engaged. Relatively few      social contacts.
  • New affluent workers – Medium levels of economic, but higher levels of cultural and social capital. Young and      active.
  • Emergent service workers – New class with low economic but high ’emerging’ cultural capital. High social capital. Young      and often found in urban areas.
  • Traditional working class – Low on all three capitals, but not the poorest. Older on average than other classes.
  • Precariat, or precarious proletariat – Most deprived group, with low levels of all three capitals.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s