Introduction: The Language of Upward Mobility

  • Mary Eagleton


This chapter turns from Richard Hoggart’s figure of ‘the scholarship boy’ in The Uses of Literacy (1957) to the figure he ignored, ‘the scholarship girl’. It maps the post-war developments in education which enabled her upward mobility and, equally, how that educational expansion and mobility now confronts the negative effects of the current austerity economy. The chapter explores the usefulness of Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of capital as well as metaphors of mobility—‘the glass ceiling’ and ‘the class ceiling’, ‘the glass floor’ and ‘opportunity hoarding’. It posits two opposing vocabularies. Alongside the judicious, public vocabulary of mobility—‘meritocracy’, ‘opportunity’, ‘aspiration’, ‘choice’—there is a vocabulary that exposes the women’s uncertainty, even desperation—‘luck’, ‘chance’, ‘fate’, ‘accident’. The chapter ends with an outline of the scope of the book and the forthcoming argument.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Eagleton
    • 1
  1. 1.YorkUK

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