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Why people tend to stick in the social and economic class in which they are born
Jeremy Bosk
Posted: 06 August 2011 15:38:54(UTC)
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It is the British housing system.

William A.V. Clark, Maarten van Ham, Rory Coulter:

Socio-Spatial Mobility in British Society
The analysis shows that education and income play critical roles in the ability of individuals to make neighbourhood and decile gains when they move. There are also powerful roles of being unemployed and being (and becoming) a social renter. Both these latter effects combine to seriously restrict the possibilities for socio-spatial movement for certain groups. The results suggest serious structural barriers to socio-spatial mobility in British society, barriers which are directly related to the organisation of the housing market.

http://ftp.iza.org/dp5861.pdf

===================

It takes a little effort to get past the academic language, but only a little. Deciles are tenths, so moving from the 9th decile to the 8th is a gain and moving from the 9th to the 10th is as low as you can go.
Ian McKean
Posted: 07 August 2011 11:44:47(UTC)
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Not quite sure, Jeremy, why you have started this topic, but feel moved to comment that such academic studies fail to understand or take account of the real structure of society. Also they all seem to start from a position that "Socio-Spatial Mobility" (whatever that is) is good without questioning it.

Like my wife, who came to the UK as a young woman, they think that class is all about money. But in fact class has very little to do with money. Remember the adage, "It takes three generations to make a gentleman".

It's not just about what you sound like when you open your mouth. You can nearly always tell someone's class from their appearance and gait when they walk down the street or even ride a bicycle.

This country has always enabled people to rise above their station from the time of Cardinal Wolsey and no doubt well before. There are lots of kids now going to private schools from wealthy families with no class. But the danger is that children learn as much from their peers as from their school, so you have to keep the influx to less than 20% according to the headmaster of my prep school back in the 1950's. Otherwise they will fail to adopt the standards of the rest, and will act as a drag on them. I think that is partly why standards of integrity have fallen so much since the War. Nowadays the concept of duty has largely disappeared and the eleventh commandment is the only one that matters.

But there will always be a limit to social mobility, perhaps mainly because the British are not an aspirational nation. Consider that the most popular "soaps" from America were things like "Dallas" and "Dynasty" while in Britain the most popular soaps like "Coronation Street" and "Eastenders" portray the dregs of society. Odd that this is so, because Shakespeare understood that his plays had to be about royalty or at least important people in order to be commercially successful. Somewhere in the last five hundred years we have lost the plot.
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Jeremy Bosk
Posted: 07 August 2011 17:34:05(UTC)
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You could say social and geographic mobility. As I said, it takes a little effort to get past the academic language. Socio spatial mobility is the ability of people to move into a higher social and / or economic class by getting a better job, or learning a new way of life, in a new part of the country or indeed new country. People who live in sink council estates generally also have a poor education, poor quality neighbours, poor housing and poor job opportunities. They are either unaware of opportunities elsewhere or are unequipped to take them. These circumstances tend to run in families through the generations but are not, by and large, genetically determined.

I agree that class is about more than money. So do the statisticians. The most poverty stricken vicar counts as higher class than a successful and rich sportsman. You can if you wish distinguish social class from economic class.

But this is not my main concern. I believe that people should have as nearly equal an opportunity in life to better themselves as is possible. Inequalities of wealth and income, of social, economic and geographic origin are too great in this country and should be reduced. Whether people choose to seize opportunity or not is up to them but the opportunity should be there.

Britthai
Posted: 08 August 2011 09:36:56(UTC)
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The need to communicate.

Whether a moaner or a teacher the average person tends to drift towards the audience that understands the extrapolated topic.

There is little satisfaction in competing at any level with people outside ones own competence and certainly nothing to brag about afterwards.

People of a similar class can extrapolate safely without crossing forbidden barriers. People of the same class have more understanding of the barriers and will know when they have been crossed.

D G Stonebanks
Posted: 08 August 2011 13:52:33(UTC)
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Jeremy Bosk "I believe that people should have as nearly equal an opportunity in life to better themselves as is possible. Inequalities of wealth and income, of social, economic and geographic origin are too great in this country and should be reduced."

So how are you going to achieve that? Are you going to confiscate wealth and give it to those not so fortunate? Of course, if you do, then you destroy the incentive to work hard and create wealth.

As an 11+ failure, I support comprehensive secondary education to give all an equal opportunity. But you have to overcome the natural preference for selective education (grammar schools) for children of the winners. And many of those in high places were 11+ winners, so now in a position of power and their views carry more weight than the views of the losers.
Jeremy Bosk
Posted: 08 August 2011 14:24:32(UTC)
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More obviously successful societies in Scandinavia have much lower pay differentials and more progressive taxation. If they can succeed under such circumstances so can we. Not everyone is motivated solely by material possessions.

I agree with your last paragraph although I attended a very bad grammar school. One of my neighbours who failed his 11+ went on to become a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. I despised the tests at the time because there were usually several valid answers that the setters were too stupid to have seen.
Paul J
Posted: 08 August 2011 14:50:39(UTC)
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Seems to be that the only mobility measured is 'up'.
I reckon there are plenty of cases where mobility is 'down'. In terms of economic class at any rate.
Yesterday I read that Humphrey Lyttelton's son was convicted of benefit fraud.
Humphrey Lyttleton went to Eaton and was about 38th Heir to the Thrown.

My own opinion about your question is a combination of home environment, 'smartness' (not the same as intelligence but that also helps) , and the work ethic, coupled with ambition to achieve rather than just 'earn a living'.
Jeremy Bosk
Posted: 08 August 2011 15:48:02(UTC)
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Paul J

Most movement is upwards as the working class shrinks and the middle class grows. But it does go both ways. The classes are not in rigidly fixed proportions. My contention is that upward mobility - for those who want it - is harder than it used to be and harder than it needs to be.

A Google search on "British social mobility" will return a long list of newspaper articles, official statistics and academic research to confirm this.

I agree with you about the effect of home environment. But the wider environment has as much or more effect - schools, neighbours, friends and so on.
Graham Barlow
Posted: 08 August 2011 16:48:15(UTC)
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All this endless analysis of where people are, and why, drives me to drink. In the words of Mr Churchill "God preserve us from experts". All this talk takes no account of personality ,inborn talent,self startability drive, and initiative. If you have these in abundance you will break in to anywhere. All my life I have met people from the most humble backgrounds who have reached the top in life, including myself and most of my family.Britain is full of such people, those who dont have these attributes tend to stay where they came from. Simple common sense
Jeremy Bosk
Posted: 08 August 2011 17:44:06(UTC)
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Graham

You are arguing nature versus nurture. Don't you know that it is both?

If it were really a matter of simple common sense we would have "built Jerusalem in England's green and pleasant land" centuries ago.
Clive B
Posted: 08 August 2011 18:23:56(UTC)
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Jeremy

I think the answer to your initial question is that people initially mix with their own 'class' of people, for want of a better word, due to where they live - rich/poor area. Children then want to fit in, hence children from lower decile social classes may see an adverse reaction if they try to achieve more in school than their peers. They may be made fun of, or even bullied, if they try to achieve more than their peer group.

You say' I believe that people should have as nearly equal an opportunity in life to better themselves as is possible'. Nice idea, but it isn't ever going to happen. Some kids will have parents that read to their kids, care whether the kids are neat/tidy, do well in school, do their homework, don't prowl the streets from a young age. Other kids have parents that don't seem to care at all. Short of taking all kids into care, I can't see how this should be equalized. Even if it could be, why should it be ?

Clive
Dennis .
Posted: 08 August 2011 19:45:48(UTC)
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In previous generations education was seen as a thing of value to give one a better life. My father always said that I would not work in a factory as he did and he wanted a better life for me. This was not uncommon, however things are different now, you can have all the trappings of society (houses, cars, TVs etc) without getting educated and a lot of parents don't see the need.

I think we can all recognise an educated person and it's summed up by the quotation :

"Education is what is left after what has learned has been forgotten"

ps I failed my 11+ in 1959 but went on to get a PhD and a good career.
Jeremy Bosk
Posted: 08 August 2011 20:35:28(UTC)
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Clive B

I agree with a lot of what you say but it is only part of the explanation. Environment, upbringing and genes all play a part.

Shame on the bullies and those who inculcate such attitudes.

As to why we should try to ensure equal opportunity for all, the uneducated and hopeless tend to be a drain on the tax payer to put it at the lowest. I would say that children are born innocent of the sins of commission and the sins of omission of their parents and of society. So they should not suffer because of them. It is a moral issue.

Dennis

I like the quotation and admire your success against the odds. A lot of people were undeservedly written off by the 11+ system, many of them suffering from problems such as Asperger's or dyslexia. I passed it in the same year but still despise it.

I think it is quite hard work to obtain "all the trappings of society" without getting educated. Most people on social security live in a degree of stress and squalor, not luxury. I have seen it, not just read about it in the gutter press. That some parents do not see the need for education is to their shame. That is why we have compulsory schooling and teachers.

Clive B
Posted: 09 August 2011 10:17:48(UTC)
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Jeremy

What action(s) are you suggesting to ensure 'equal opportunity for all' ? Too many (not suggesting this is you) seem to follow the route of - we can't make parents of the low achievers change their behaviour and we can't see to get the low grades up, therefore we have to hamper the kids who do well in some way.

Seems to be the route that we're going with University entrance. Kids who do well but have gone to independent schools, or who have rich parents, get penalized in some way, whereas low achievers who went (say) to a comprehensive and have parents on modest incomes get a boost. I'm absolutely against that form of 'equalizing' the opportunity.

I went to a big comprehensive, had parents on modest means, and still got to University (before they were all called 'Unis') - and would have hated to think I got there only because others were discriminated against in favour of letting me in.

Clive
John Baxevanidis
Posted: 09 August 2011 12:33:19(UTC)
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Dear Jeremy,

Noble as your sentiments and intentions might be, I also think they are rather "pure and academic". Don't get me wrong I am a "fun" of academia, I have attended 3 Universities and equally obtained 3 degrees including 2 Master's degrees in the process. I was born in Greece and brought up by my very poor single mother. I went to a "run of the mill" state school until I was 17 where I barely graduated by the skin of my teeth. I had never made the slightest effort to study until that point in my life. At the age of 18 I came to the UK.

Now I am a "top earner" (according to the statistics), drive an expensive car, but live in a small 3 bed detached house.

I consider myself to be "from the block", yet at the same time much more cultured, educated and informed than most people I know.

I know a lot of young people who have no dreams, no aspirations and consequently they are going nowhere. However, they belong to a "social class" higher than mine

Can you connect the dots? There were no opportunities presented to me at any moment in my life. My parents and I "forced" them. Cultural and geographical idiosyncrasies play a huge role

So yes in median/average/statistical terms there are hundreds of different factors that "micro-affect" and "micro-influence" classes.

People tend to stick to where they are (in statistical terms at least) because they are not allowed by "society" to go anywhere else. This is a "macro" factor. I'm a cynic and a realist and I do not believe any time soon that "society" will ever allow equality or freedom. If you want to explore the answer to your question, you have to go back in history to understand it better.

Do you really, truly think that a different tax system, policy or law will eliminate this problem? Think with your heart not your calculator and you will probably realise that it will not make much difference.

Do the starving and the diseased have equal opportunities in this world? Why is that? What is the social and economic class of a thousand generations born in poverty, disease or war? But I know this is a different kettle of fish because I am referring to an entirely different group of people...different demographics...different "statistical groups", blah, blah, hence let's not talk about them...

This country has an educational system which is presented by society as "one of the best". Yet if you speak to foreign people in education (school or university) will testify that the level of education in England at least (as I am not aware of the rest of the UK) is very poor. Schools dish out "tripple" A's or double stars or whatever, like shops give out flyers in the streets, yet children are still just about literate in comparison with other countries. I am not just exaggerating for a humorous effect, I have met plenty of such kids and University graduate later on, who lag just as much in their abilities and knowledge. When I did my first degree in the University of Manchester most of the English students had to go to "night school" to learn basic maths before proceeding with the rest of the class. The university already had this facility, aware of the lack of knowledge. Don't get me wrong, England still breeds fantastic scientists and brilliant minds, but we are talking about the average and statistical here after all.

There is no recipe for the road to success. Academia loves boxes and statistics and graphs, etc. What makes you as a person? Your social class, your education, your salary, your parents' wealth, your manners, your empathy towards others, your religion, the car you drive? Why do we care about social mobility? (I know most do, it's rhetorical question) Our "care and concern" about social and economic mobility is what pushes people further into extremism, vanity, but also apathy. Who says that going up will make you happy? Success is measured differently by everybody.
Anonymous Post
Posted: 09 August 2011 15:46:01(UTC)
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Anonymous 1 needed this 'Off the Record'

Born in Inner city Liverpool

failed my 11+

now have to live in Jersey for tax reasons


maybe drive, motivation, and intelligence have something to do with it ???
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Recently Redundant and Retired
Posted: 09 August 2011 15:59:09(UTC)
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With talk of the 11+ you're looking at a very narrow field of class division, most upper and middle class children will be sitting the common entrance exam at 11.
Social class mobility is more likely to occur generation by generation rather than by an individual and often by accident rather than design.
Equal opportunity is by and large a waste of time and money, merely generating: jobs for bureaucrats, poorly performing systems, poor expectation management in individuals and all-round unhappiness and financial ruin.
We would all like to sit the Upper House on fat expenses but some people have to work. The social pyramid, like any other pyramid is only stable if it is wider at the base than in the middle or top.
The big problem with equal opportunity is the incompetent use it to their advantage over the competent to undermine industry and society. Those employed to apply it feel the need to promote the least capable person to demonstrate they're doing their job.
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Jeremy Bosk
Posted: 09 August 2011 17:52:30(UTC)
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Anonymous1

You and Alan Sugar are the exceptions that prove the rule. It is those lacking your qualities who need help.



Recently Redundant and Retired

I agree with paragraphs 1 and 2.

Paragraph 4: I disagree that a social construct (class) needs to be pyramid shaped. Even modern buildings can be built in none standard shapes with the use of structural steel, a material not available to the ancient Egyptians.

Paragraph 5: I think you are too pessimistic. The incompetent are too stupid for such deviousness and even the most politically correct HR people do try to hire the best candidate.

Paragraph 3: it would be far better if there was no need for any equal opportunities policy because managers did their job properly. Unfortunately there are still bigoted and prejudiced recruiters who unfairly and unreasonably refuse to hire blacks, gays, women religious minorities and so on. This is not only bad economics for the businesses concerned but likely to cause social problems and ultimately costs to the tax payer. I agree that policies can be slow and expensive but don't know how to be thorough without it.

None of the above means that those who dislike blacks, gays, women, religious minorities or whoever have to invite them into their home or be more than minimally civil elsewhere.



Clive B

Yes, it is wrong to penalize the successful. It is possible to succeed in life from the lowest possible beginnings but very hard and very unusual. I want a lot of changes.

First: make council house tenancies transferable so that the unemployed in the north can move to the south for work.

Second: encourage the retired in the south to move north by cash incentives thus freeing housing for workers. The money spent would be saved in benefits no longer being paid in the north.

Third: give large financial incentives to park pre-school children in well run nurseries with qualified staff who are able to inculcate good social values as well as begin literacy and numeracy education. The present government is doing the opposite in a bid to remove mothers from the work force and so massage the unemployment figures.

Fourth: better teaching and better discipline in schools for all age groups. This does not mean caning, mass expulsions or any of the other populist nostrums. If our own universities cannot produce the right teachers we should import them from places like Scandinavia.

Fifth: find a halfway sensible education system for school governance, school financing, curriculum and everything else. Then stop turning it upside down every few years for reasons of political dogmatism or "Ooh, Look! The Americans are doing it: so it must be better".

You are going to ask, "How do we pay for it?". We must. There must be a more progressive tax system in which the very high earners and the very wealthy pay more. The poor, by definition, do not have the ability. If higher taxes drive a few people into tax exile then we are probably better off without their influence. I remember when three of the Beatles emigrated but Ringo stayed behind because he liked it here and he had a sense of social justice. Short term pain for long term gain.

If other countries can have decent education systems, so can we.

If other countries can manage their economies intelligently: so can we.

Dennis .
Posted: 09 August 2011 17:56:07(UTC)
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Anonymous1

Couldn't agree more, it always amazes me that people still live or work in trouble spots like Northern Ireland or other deprived parts of the country. Why don't they just get off their backsides and find a job somewhere nicer or emigrate or something? You are only alive once so why put up with it? At the end of the day we all have exactly the same number of hours in a day to achieve something.
Jeremy Bosk
Posted: 09 August 2011 18:01:35(UTC)
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Dennis

Some people have family ties.
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c brown on 14/08/2013(UTC)
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