The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged
The hidden barriers or ‘glass ceilings’, preventing women and minority ethnic groups from getting to the top are well documented. Yet questions of social class – and specifically class origin – have been curiously absent from these debates. In this talk I begin by drawing on new data from Britain’s largest employment survey, The Labour Force Survey, to demonstrate that a powerful and previously unrecognised “class pay gap” exists in Britain’s higher professional and managerial occupations. I then switch focus to ask why this pay gap exists. Specifically, I draw on 175 interviews across four occupational case studies – television, accountancy, architecture, and acting. This demonstrates that the class ceiling can only be partially attributed to conventional measures of ‘merit’. Instead, more powerful drivers are rooted in the misrecognition of classed self-presentation as ‘talent’, work cultures historically shaped by the privileged, the affordances of the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’, and sponsored mobility premised on class-cultural homophily.
20 May 2019, 12:45 (Monday, 4th week, Trinity 2019)
Department of Sociology, 42-43 Park End Street, OX1 1JD. Access building via Tidmarsh Lane. Seminar to be held in lecture theatre, ground floor
Sam Friedman (LSE)
Department of Sociology
Christiaan Monden (University of Oxford)
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