Re-imagining social mobility: Moving beyond the individual to the collective

Folkes, Louise ORCID: 0000-0002-7857-6953 (2020) Re-imagining social mobility: Moving beyond the individual to the collective. In: Social Vulnerabilities Conference, 15 July 2020, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham. (Unpublished)

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Discussions around social mobility have increasingly gained traction in both political and academic circles in the last two decades. The current, established conceptualisation of social mobility reduces ‘success’ down to individual level of educational achievement, occupational position and income. For many in working-class communities, this discourse is inaccessible or undesirable. Drawing upon thirteen family interviews with nine families collected as part of an ethnographic doctoral study, this presentation highlights how alternative narratives of social (im)mobility were constructed by working-class residents; emphasising the value of fixity, anchorage and relationality. Three key techniques were used by participants when constructing social (im)mobility narratives: the born and bred narrative; distancing from education as a route to mobility; and the construction of a distinct working-class discourse of fulfilment. Participants highlighted the value of anchorage to place and kinship, where fulfilment results from finding ontological security. The findings demonstrate that residents of a working-class community constructed alternative social mobility narratives using a relational selfhood model that held local value. Constructing the self-through-others, such as nearby family or community members, may be more salient to the working-class families in this study than the individualism propagated by dominant social mobility discourses. It is not that these families are not ‘strivers’ or ‘lack’ certain abilities, but that the focus of ‘success’ is not always based on individual gains alone. This presentation argues that social mobility can be conceptualised as a collective rather than individual endeavour, improving entire communities that seek ontological security instead of social class movement and dislocation.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social vulnerabilities; Social mobility
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Business, Computing and Social Sciences
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Louise Folkes
Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2020 08:42
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:24

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