Introduction: The Language of Upward Mobility

  • Mary Eagleton
Chapter

Abstract

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.

References

  1. All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility and the Sutton Trust. The Class Ceiling: Increasing Access to the Leading Professions. https://www.suttontrust.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/APPG-on-Social-Mobility_Report_FINAL.pdf. Accessed 19 July 2017.
  2. Ashley, Louise, Jo Duberley, Hilary Sommerlad, and Dora Scholarios. 2015. A Qualitative Evaluation of Non-Educational Barriers to Elite Professions. Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, June. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/non-educational-barriers-to-the-elite-professions-evaluation. Accessed 19 May 2016.
  3. Bakhtin, Mikhail. 1968/1984. Rabelais and His World. Trans. Hélène Iswolsky. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Belfield, Chris, Jack Britton, Lorraine Dearden, and Laura van der Erve. 2017. Higher Education Funding in England: Past, Present and Options for the Future. Institute for Fiscal Studies, July. https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/9334. Accessed 5 July 2017.
  5. Berlant, Lauren. 2007. On the Case. Critical Inquiry 33 (4, Summer): 663–672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. ———. 2011. Cruel Optimism. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bolton, Paul. 2012. Education: Historical Statistics, Standard Note SN/SG/4252. House of Commons Library, November 27. http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN04252#fullreport. Accessed 19 May 2016.
  8. Bordo, Susan. 1993. Unbearable Weight Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  9. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1986. The Forms of Capital. Trans. Richard Nice. In Handbook of Theory of Research for the Sociology of Education, ed. John Richardson, 46–58. New York: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  10. ———. 1990. The Logic of Practice. Trans. Richard Nice. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  11. ———. 1992. The Purpose of Reflexive Sociology (The Chicago Workshop). In An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology, ed. P. Bourdieu and Loïc J.D. Wacquant, 60–215. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  12. ———. 2004/2007. Sketch for a Self-Analysis. Trans. Richard Nice. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  13. Cameron, David. 2013. Speech to the National Conservative Convention. http://www.ukpol.co.uk/david-cameron-2013-speech-to-the-national-conservative-convention/. Accessed 1 July 2017.
  14. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. 2015. Over-Qualification and Skills Mismatch in the Graduate Labour Market, August. http://www.cipd.co.uk/publicpolicy/policy-reports/overqualification-skills-mismatch-graduate-labour-market.aspx. Accessed 1 July 2017.
  15. Conran, Shirley. 1975. Superwoman. London: Sidgwick & Jackson.Google Scholar
  16. Deegan, Liz. 1997. Girls with the World at Their Feet. The Sunday Mail (Adelaide), October 19.Google Scholar
  17. Department for Business, Innovation & Skills. 2015. Participation Rates in Higher Education: Academic Years 2006/7–2013/2014, September 2. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/458034/HEIPR_PUBLICATION_2013-14.pdf. Accessed 19 May 2016.
  18. Ellmann, Maud. 1993. The Hunger Artists: Starving, Writing and Imprisonment. London: Virago.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Freud, Sigmund. 1959. Family Romances (1909). In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, ed. James Strachey, Vol. 1X, 235–241. London: The Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psychoanalysis.Google Scholar
  20. Friedman, Sam. 2016. Habitus Clivé and the Emotional Imprint of Social Mobility. The Sociological Review 64 (1): 129–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Grenfell, Michael, ed. 2008/2012. Pierre Bourdieu: Key Concepts. 2nd ed. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Grosz, Elizabeth. 1989. Sexual Subversions. St Leonards: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
  23. Hanley, Lynsey. 2016. Respectable: The Experience of Class. London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
  24. Hanson, Clare. 2013. Eugenics, Literature and Culture in Post-War Britain. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. Harris, Anita. 2004. Future Girl: Young Women in the Twenty-First Century. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  26. Heron, Liz. 1985. Dear Green Place. In Truth, Dare or Promise: Girls Growing Up in the Fifties, ed. L. Heron, 153–169. London: Virago Press Ltd.Google Scholar
  27. Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). 2017. Higher Education Student Enrolments and Qualifications Obtained at Higher Education Providers in the United Kingdom 2015/16, January 12. https://www.hesa.ac.uk/news/12-01-2017/sfr242-student-enrolments-and-qualifications. Accessed 8 Mar 2017.
  28. Hoggart, Richard. 1957/1986. The Uses of Literacy. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Ltd.Google Scholar
  29. International Labour Organization. 2015. World Employment and Social Outlook: The Changing Nature of Jobs. Geneva. http://www.ilo.org/global/research/global-reports/weso/2015-changing-nature-of-jobs/WCMS_368626/lang--en/index.htm. Accessed 1 July 2017.
  30. Irigaray, Luce. 1981. And the One Doesn’t Stir Without the Other. Trans. Hélène Vivienne Wenzel. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 7 (1, Autumn): 60–67.Google Scholar
  31. Kristeva, Julia. 1982. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. Trans. Leon S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Land, Hilary. 2006. We Sat Down at the Table of Privilege and Complained About the Food. In The Rise and Rise of the Meritocracy, ed. Geoff Dench, 45–60. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  33. Laurison, Daniel, and Sam Friedman. 2015. Introducing the Class Ceiling: Social Mobility and Britain’s Elite Occupations, LSE Sociology Department Working Paper Series. London: LSE Academic Publishing.Google Scholar
  34. Lawler, Steph. 1999. “Getting Out and Getting Away”: Women’s Narratives of Class Mobility. Feminist Review 63 (Autumn): 3–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. ———. 2000. Escape and Escapism: Representing Working-Class Women. In Cultural Studies and the Working Class: Subject to Change, ed. Sally R. Munt, 113–128. London: Cassell.Google Scholar
  36. Littler, Jo. 2013. Meritocracy as Plutocracy: The Marketising of “Equality” Under Neoliberalism. New Formations 80/81 (Autumn/Winter): 52–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. May, Theresa. 2016a. Britain: The Great Meritocracy, September 9. https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/britain-the-great-meritocracy-prime-ministers-speech. Accessed 1 July 2017.
  38. ———. 2016b. Statement from the New Prime Minister, July 13. https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/statement-from-the-new-prime-minister-theresa-may. Accessed 1 July 2017.
  39. McCabe, Earl. 2011. Depressive Realism: An Interview with Lauren Berlant. Hypocrite Reader 5, June. http://hypocritereader.com/5/depressive-realism. Accessed 9 June 2016.
  40. McDowell, Linda. 1997. Capital Culture: Gender at Work in the City. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. ———. 2004. Sexuality, Desire and Embodied Performances in the Workplace. In Sexuality Repositioned: Diversity and the Law, ed. Belinda Brookes-Gordon, Loraine Gelsthorpe, Andrew Bainham, and Martin Johnson, 85–107. Oxford: Hart Publishing.Google Scholar
  42. ———. 2010. Capital Culture Revisited: Sex, Testosterone and the City. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 34 (3): 652–658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. McKnight, Abigail. 2015. Downward Mobility, Opportunity Hoarding and the ‘Glass Floor’. Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, July. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-research-exposes-the-glass-floor-in-british-society. Accessed 12 May 2016.
  44. McRobbie, Angela. 2009. The Aftermath of Feminism: Gender, Culture, and Social Change. London: Sage Publications Ltd.Google Scholar
  45. Munford, Rebecca. 2015. Writing the F-word: Girl Power, the Third Wave, and Postfeminism. In The History of British Women’s Writing, 1970–Present, ed. Mary Eagleton and Emma Parker, 130–144. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  46. Myrdal, Alva, and Viola Klein. 1956. Women’s Two Roles: Home and Work. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  47. Office for Fair Access. Annual Report and Accounts, 2015–16. https://www.offa.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/56464-HC-570_WEB.pdf. Accessed 1 July 2017.
  48. Osborne, George. Financial Statement. https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2013-03-20/debates/13032055000001/FinancialStatement. Accessed 1 July 2017.
  49. Reay, Diane. 2005. Beyond Consciousness? The Psychic Landscape of Social Class. Sociology 39 (5): 911–928.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. ———. 2012. “We Never Get a Fair Chance”: Working-Class Experiences of Education in the Twenty-First Century. In Class Inequality in Austerity Britain: Power, Difference and Suffering, ed. Will Atkinson, Steven Roberts, and Mike Savage, 33–50. Basingstoke: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  51. Reeves, Richard V., and Kimberly Howard. 2013. The Glass Floor: Education, Downward Mobility, and Opportunity Hoarding. Center on Children and Families at Brookings, November. https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/glass-floor-downward-mobility-equality-opportunity-hoarding-reeves-howard.pdf. Accessed 12 May 2016.
  52. Robbins, Bruce. 2006. What the Porter Saw: On the Academic Novel. In A Concise Companion to Contemporary British Fiction, ed. James F. English, 248–266. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  53. ———. 2007. Upward Mobility and the Common Good: Toward a Literary History of the Welfare State. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Ruth, Jennifer. 2008. A Downwardly-Mobile Professor Reads Bruce Robbins’ Upward Mobility and the Common Good. Minnesota Review 70 (Spring): 167–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sage, Lorna. 2000/2010. Bad Blood. London: Fourth Estate.Google Scholar
  56. Savage, Mike, et al. 2015. Social Class in the 21st Century. London: Pelican.Google Scholar
  57. Shiach, Morag. 1995. A Gendered History of Cultural Categories. In Cultural Materialism: On Raymond Williams, ed. Christopher Prendergast, 51–70. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  58. Smith, Zadie. 2012. The North West London Blues. The New York Review of Books. June. http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2012/06/02/north-west-london-blues/. Accessed 5 Dec 2016.
  59. Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission. 2016. State of the Nation 2016: Social Mobility in Great Britain, November. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/state-of-the-nation-2016. Accessed 8 Mar 2017.
  60. Standing, Guy. 2011. The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class. London: Bloomsbury Academic.Google Scholar
  61. ———. 2012. The Precariat: From Denizens to Citizens? Polity 44 (4): 588–608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Steedman, Carolyn. 1986. Landscape for a Good Woman: A Story of Two Lives. London: Virago Press Ltd.Google Scholar
  63. ———. 2017. Middle-Class Hair. London Review of Books 39 (20): 31–32.Google Scholar
  64. The Cabinet Office. 2009. Unleashing Aspiration: The Final Report of the Panel on Fair Access to the Professions, July. http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http:/www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/227102/fair-access.pdf. Accessed 1 July 2017.
  65. The Newsom Report. 1963. Half Our Future. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.Google Scholar
  66. Tilly, Charles. 1998. Durable Inequality. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  67. Tyler, Imogen. 2008. “Chav Mum Chav Scum”: Class Disgust in Contemporary Britain. Feminist Media Studies 8 (1): 17–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Universities UK. Our Members. http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/aboutus/members/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed 1 July 2017.
  69. Weldon, Fay. 2002/2003. Auto da Fay. London: Flamingo.Google Scholar
  70. Willetts, David. 2012. The Pinch: How the Baby Boomers Took Their Children’s Future—And Why They Should Give It Back. London: Atlantic Books.Google Scholar
  71. Young, Michael. 1958/1961. The Rise of the Meritocracy, 1870–2033: An Essay on Education and Equality. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  72. ———. 2001. Down with Meritocracy. The Guardian, June 29. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2001/jun/29/comment. Accessed 4 June 2016.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Eagleton
    • 1
  1. 1.YorkUK

Personalised recommendations