The Six Myths of Social Mobility

Selina Todd is Professor of Modern History and Co-Director of Women in Humanities at Oxford University. Her book Young Women, Work and Family in England 1918-1950 won the Women’s History Network Book Prize. Her most recent book, The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class, 1910-2010, was a Sunday Times bestseller and was shortlisted for Political History Book of the Year 2014.

On 5 April 2017, she delivered the keynote address to the Social History Society’s 2017 conference at the UCL Institute of Education. She challenge she set herself in this lecture was to debunk the six central myths of social mobility in postwar Britain:

  1. Social mobility is an individual project personified by the ‘self-made man’.
  2. Selective education has enabled social mobility.
  3. A lack of aspiration, or cultural capital, prevents working-class people from rising up the social ladder.
  4. Getting up the ladder means imitating those a few rungs up.
  5. Social mobility takes place before the age of 35.
  6. Social mobility is a social good.

One response to “The Six Myths of Social Mobility

  1. Social mobility has gone 1 way only in my area… down drastically since 80’s. Never recovered from Thatcher . Our industry has gone. Ploughing money into mental health is absolutely pointless. People feel they have no worth because if you leave school with no academic skills. Your fcked. I make no apology for my language, it infuriates me to the point of tears. People are being brainwashed that mental health ( especially in young men) is the problem. NO. Having no hope if you can’t be academic is the issue, no jobs, no self worth, no hope. Turn to drugs/ alcohol to numb the paun. Cannabis ( high strength shit cut with highly addictive drugs ) becomes the norm. That’s when mental health probs start. It’s not Rocket science. More accessible jobs, housing, decent wages. Areas have never ever recovered from Thatcher yrs. Problems are social economic.That obviously then lead to health problems, addiction, crime, ridiculous constant reoffenders being unjustly sent to prison for short terms, short enough that legality justice system don’t have to do any rehabilitation for them. Lock in cells 23 1/2 hrs a day. Released. No life skills. Reoffend. Back in prison. Constant in & out short sentences mounting up to yrs of lost time outside. How on earth would they have life skills ?. Institutionalised.

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