Re-imagining social mobility: the role of relationality, social class and place in qualitative constructions of mobility

Folkes, Louise ORCID: 0000-0002-7857-6953 (2022) Re-imagining social mobility: the role of relationality, social class and place in qualitative constructions of mobility. Sociological Research Online, 27 (1). pp. 136-153. doi:10.1177/1360780420985127

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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, focusing on the successful few who rise up and move out. For many in working-class communities, this discourse is undesirable or antithetical to everyday life. Drawing upon thirteen interviews with nine families collected as part of an ethnographic study, this article asks, ‘how were social (im)mobility narratives and notions of value constructed by residents of one working-class community?’ Its findings highlight how alternative narratives of social (im)mobility were constructed; 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. This article makes important contributions to the theorisation of social mobility in which it might be understood as a collective rather than individual endeavour, improving entire communities that seek ontological security instead of social class movement and dislocation.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social mobility; Social class; Value practices; Kinship; Selfhood; Place; Fulfilment; Success; Relationality
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
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: 16 Dec 2020 14:56
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:24

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