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Aspects of contemporary social mobility in the London region

Richardson, C. James (1975) Aspects of contemporary social mobility in the London region. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.nhdzbq73nlf3


As there have been few studies of individual social mobility in Britain, this thesis examines a wide range of aspects of the mobility experience. Data reported come from secondary analysis of a sample of men in the London Region in 1970 (N = 884) and second interviews with a sub-sample (N = 117). Overall, there was more upward and less downward mobility observed in 1970 than in 1949 but little change in degree of occupational rigidity. Downward mobility generally proceeded from a 'peripheral' rather than a 'core' middle-class position to a skilled manual trade, thereby involving little or no discontinuity. The tendency of fathers of the downwardly mobile to have been intragenerationally upwardly mobile suggests a cyclical pattern in which sons of the same upwardly mobile are not adequately socialized into a middle-class pattern. The opposite hypothesis, that upward mobility proceeds from a 'sunken middle-class' family or one otherwise not well integrated into the working class, was not well supported. Generally, upward mobility was more complicated than downward mobility, involving at least five distinct patterns. In only two of these was it clear that occupational mobility had led to social mobility in the sense of a shift in relational and normative dimensions. The one-third of the men upwardly mobile through a formal educational route were generally, though not exclusively, found in these two patterns; 'distance' traversed was also an important determinant of class change. Taken together, however, the upwardly mobile were found to bestride class of origin and destination with respect to a wide range of variables. This was also the case when attention was directed to the negative or dissociative consequences of upward and downward mobility. That is, the data lend support to an acculturative, rather than a dissociative hypothesis about the consequences of social mobility; the mobile appeared to be no more isolated, detached, prejudiced or anomic than was typical in the class which they were entering, Finally, the meaning people give to social mobility is examined at some length.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 1975 C. James Richardson
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Economics
Supervisor: Hopper, Earl

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