Education and Social Mobility- From ‘Royal Avenue’ to a Mechanism of Stasis?

Mar 21, 2012 16:00

Dr Spyros Themelis

Education and Social Mobility- From ‘Royal Avenue’ to a Mechanism of Stasis?

In this talk discuss Dr Spyros Themelis discussed the decreasing significance of education as a means of social advancement. While governments have always strived to make education the servant of their national interests (Lyotard, 1979), for most of the postwar period this was associated with entry into the labour market, and especially into the professional and managerial occupations, as well as with attendant upward social mobility.

The primacy of education among other routes of occupational advancement and social mobility was achieved thanks to government policy and planning, which led to the unparalleled expansion of all education sectors. This expansion coincided with the socio-economic conditions that prevailed in the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of capitalism (throughout the fifties and sixties), which emphasised economic growth and development within mixed market economies against other considerations, such as ethical, equitable, sustainable and socially just development. In this context, education started being viewed as an instrument for economic growth and a necessary means of improving a nation’s productive capacity, in short, as an engine of growth in its own right (Schultz, 1971).

However, more recently education appears to have lost its capacity to promote individuals’ social advancement. Instead, many argue (cf. Reay, 2006) it has become an instrument of social stasis. At the same time, the economic and financial crisis that has engulfed the world since 2008, has ground the economies of most economically advanced countries to a halt or even made them shrink considerably. The formerly cherished ‘education-based panacea’, both in terms of individual and country-specific benefits, is under scrutiny and disbelief, while, the rising numbers of graduate unemployment, student debt, and the concomitant devaluation of educational credentials give more reasons for discontent.

Dr Spyros Themelis presened his findings from selected, advanced and less-advanced economically, countries in order to illustrate how education has abolished its potential to promote upward social mobility and will discuss some of the chief reasons behind this trend. The discussion was framed in a critique of the political economy and the dominant model of production that has been in operation after WWII in many Western capitalist countries.

Date: 20 September 2019

Venue: University of Greenwich, Old Royal Naval College, London SE10 9LS, U.K.

Organisers: University of Greenwich, LCSS & London South Bank University

The 7th LCSS PhD Methodology Conference was held on 20 September 2019 at the University of Greenwich.

The conference aimed to bring together doctoral students, professionals and early-career researchers from various disciplines within the Social Sciences and Humanities allowing them to share their research experiences. The conference addressed methodological, empirical and ethical issues relevant to the Social Sciences and Humanities. There was a particular focus on the impact of Big Data on methodological choices.

The conference programme provided a valuable opportunity for researchers to debate and reflect on their methodological choices to consider alternative approaches, methods, tools and resources. It also provided a venue for discussing potential challenges facing researchers.

This was a one-day conference including one keynote panel session in the morning and two sessions in the afternoon all together.

Among the topics featured were:

● The impact of Big Data on methodological choices, formulation of research questions

and research design.

● Ethics and ethical issues faced while conducting research.

● Key challenges in identifying the type of research methodology.

● Research philosophy and adopting different ontological and epistemological


● The selection of appropriate methods, techniques and tools for data collection.

● The use of technology and innovative approaches.

Besides the sessions, the conference hosted three invaluable keynote speakers as well. Prof Kenneth D’Silva, the director of Centre for Research in Accounting, Finance and Governance, at London South Bank University presented “Theory and Data – Big or Small – within Research Methodology: Key Thoughts and Issues”.

Dr Richard Race , senior lecturer at School of Education, University of Roehampton discussed “Methods, Methodology and Ethics in Education and Social Science Research”, while

Dr Simon Whitworth from UK Statistics Authority talked on “The National Statistician’s Data Ethics Advisory Committee: Providing   Assurance That the Use of Data for Research and Statistical Purposes Is Ethical and for the Public Good”

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London Centre for Social Studies (LCSS)

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