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What Do We Know and What Should We Do About Social Mobility?

What Do We Know and What Should We Do About Social Mobility?

September 2020 | 120 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Britain has become a fractured country, defined by stark economic, geographical and political divides. Its low social mobility is now an increasingly pressing issue and stagnating real wages signal a dark era of declining opportunities and the growing spectre of downward mobility. Failure to do something now will mean greater problems for future generations.

Through the use of cutting-edge data this book summarises what we know about social mobility research: documenting the history of mobility trends since the Second World War; detailing the recent dark age of declining absolute mobility, and using international comparisons to highlight the variations of social mobility by place. The authors then call for a fundamental shift in debates about social mobility and social justice, arguing that tinkering with current policies will not transform society to the extent that is needed. Only by establishing general principles of fairness in society- relating to notions of community, decency, collective responsibility and inter-generational justice – can we agree the major policy reforms that can make Britain a more mobile and just society.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The ‘What Do We Know and What Should We Do About...?' series offers readers short, up-to-date overviews of key issues often misrepresented, simplified or misunderstood in modern society and the media. Each book is written by a leading social scientist with an established reputation in the relevant subject area. The Series Editor is Professor Chris Grey, Royal Holloway, University of London
1. Introduction
2. Background
3. What Do We Know About Social Mobility?
4. What Should We Do About Social Mobility?
5. Conclusion

Written by two of the leading authors on social mobility in the U.K., this book is an excellent and accessible entry point into a large and complex academic literature. It covers enormous ground, from technical issues about how to measure social mobility, to reasons for the historical trends in U.K. post war social mobility. It also puts the U.K. in an international context and suggests concrete policy solutions for the future. A must read for policymakers! Written in an engaging way, I can see it will become a primer on social mobility for years to come.

Anna Vignoles
Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

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