Disillusioned Discordian

Social Immobility
December 13, 2007, 12:05 pm
Filed under: Current Affairs

Social mobility is one of those things which you might not normally think about. If you have been brought up never to aspire then the chances are you won’t regret your lack of aspirations. If on the other hand you went to a public school and then onto Oxbridge, then you will most likely take things for granted and not realize what barriers exist for others or worse you will ascribe all your successes to personal talent.  

Whenever reports like this come out in the news they are often accompanied by examples of people rising from the gutter to the dizzying heights of society. In reality these examples are incredibly rare, the myths that help us justify the ‘american dream’ that anyone can make it. This time around it’s an African who has made it from the slums to get a Masters at Manchester University. Hasn’t he done well everybody, ahhh.. lets all give him a pat on the back… meanwhile the vast majority of his peers live in poverty. 

Despite politicians waxing lyrical about living in an opportunity society, the reality doesn’t seem to tally. You might have thought that the expansion of higher education gave more people opportunities, sadly with the proliferation of graduates; elitism surrounding academic institutions has increased. Whereas before merely having a degree was your meal ticket, now it seems you have to have a degree from ‘the right sort of institution’. Working in the administration of PhD admissions (my mother is an educational administrator you see) I’ve seen countless applications rejected on the grounds that the person was from a ‘new university’ or the academic was ‘unsure about the quality of their academic institution’. Such attitudes make a mockery of the QAA, neo-labour’s sound bites about living in meritocracy and the portrayal that we are living in a classless society. Academia is of course a bastion of elitism and sexism, second perhaps only to Law, and Politics. 

 Class politics has lost its edge and class war is a fashion statement. A coherent collective identity amongst the underclass has basically been destroyed by a pervasive individualistic consumerism.  Manufactured celebrities now provide the archetypal symbols of social identification, and pursuit of the brand ensures now pursuit of culture. Sneering at Chavs is now acceptable in a society where all fault of circumstances lie at the feet of the individual. Gone is our collective responsibility to educate and inform, gone is social housing, and gone is the ability of the underclass to recognize their repression.


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