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Elite Graduates in France and UK; Surnames and Social Mobility

Laurie Taylor asks how much of our fate is tied to the status of our parents and grandparents. Also, elite graduates in France and Britain.

Surnames and social mobility - How much of our fate is tied to the status of our parents and grandparents? Laurie Taylor talks to Gregory Clark, Professor of Economics at the University of California, Davis, about movement up the social ladder over 8 centuries, from medieval England to modern Sweden. Using a unique methodology, Professor Clark tracked family names to assess social mobility across diverse eras and societies. His conclusion is that mobility rates are less than are often estimated and are resistant to social policies. It may take hundreds of years for descendants to move beyond inherited advantages, as well as disadvantages. He's joined by Andrew Miles, Reader in Sociology at the CRESC, University of Manchester and author of the only systematic study of historical social mobility in the UK.

Also, elite graduates and global ambition. Sally Power, Professorial Fellow at the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, talks about a comparative study which finds that British students from top universities seek worldwide opportunities, whereas their French counterparts wish to 'serve' France. In theory, globalization has dissolved national borders and loyalties, so why do elite students from France and England have such strikingly different visions of their future?

Producer: Torquil Macleod.

Available now

28 minutes

Gregory Clark

Professor of economics at the University of California, Davis



Find out more about Gregory Clark



The Son Also Rises
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN-10: 0691162549
ISBN-13: 978-0691162546

Andrew Miles

Reader in Sociology (CRESC), University of Manchester



Find out more about Dr Andrew Miles



The Remaking of the British Working Class, 1840-1940
Andrew Miles, Mike Savage (Authors)
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN-10: 0415073200
ISBN-13: 978-0415073202


Social Mobility in Nineteenth And Early Twentieth-Century England
Publisher: Palgrave MacMillan
ISBN-10: 0312220456
ISBN-13: 978-0312220457

Sally Power

Professorial Fellow at the School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University



Find out more about Sally Power



Abstract: Self, Career and Nationhood: The contrasting aspirations of British and French elite graduates
Power, S., Brown, P., Allouch, A. and Tholen, G. (2013)
The British Journal of Sociology, 64: 578–596
doi: 10.1111/1468-4446.12048

Ethnography Award

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These are now being reviewed by the judges for the Award, Professor Dick Hobbs, Professor Henrietta Moore, Dr Louise Westmarland, Professor Bev Skeggs. The Chair is Professor Laurie Taylor. (Please do not contact any judges directly).


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  • Wed 5 Mar 2014 16:00
  • Mon 10 Mar 2014 00:15

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