Was deeply embedded in their minds as a key symbol of

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was deeply embedded in their minds as a key symbol of what it might be like not to live in poverty (Shildrick et al, 2012a).There are a number of problems with the idea of social mobility as a route away from poverty. First, routes to the best-paid occupations tend to be secured via a successful educational background and we have seen in this section how the odds of educational achievement are stacked very firmly against those who experience poverty. We also know that routes into professional jobs are heavily determined by not just educational achievements but also social networks (as is entry into jobs at most levels of the labour market); hence, even when people from disadvantaged backgrounds manage to accrue the necessary qualifications to enter, say, medicine or the law, they often still lack the right sort of extra-curricular activities (in the form of hobbies or gap-year activities) as well as the contacts and networks that would help Poverty, social class and social immobilityThis content downloaded from 198.246.186.26 on Sat, 18 Jan 2020 20:03:53 UTCAll use subject to
106Poverty propagandain accessing these sorts of jobs. A key issue that the House of Lords report points to is the importance of social networks in getting work:Employer recruitment practices disadvantage those in the middle and at the bottom end of the labour market. Small and medium-sized businesses in particular rely on informal means of recruitment, such as word-of-mouth. Using this sort of recruitment means that applicants’ existing social connections and networks are important and lead to their success. Not all young people will have these connections. We welcome the fact that some employers are already changing their recruitment practices to address these problems. We note however that these changes are not widespread, are limited to the largest employers and will not go far enough on their own to achieve real progress. (House of LordsSelect Committee on Social Mobility, 2016, p 6)Gaffney and Baumberg argue that ‘the chance members of a given generation will move into a different social class from their parents has changed very little since the middle of the last century’ (Gaffney and Baumberg, 2015, p 6). If you start at the bottom, evidence shows you probably won’t venture far from it. The problems of social class immobility are heightened and exacerbated in the current context, where young people are being particularly adversely affected both by the global recession and by the austerity and other policy measures that have been implemented since 2010. Savage (2015) has shed light on this issue, describing the class structure as equivalent to a mountain: some groups starting near to the top find it altogether easier to retain their hold at the top, while those at the bottom quite literally have a mountain to climb to make it all the way to the top or even part way up. The analogy is useful, as it also points to the ways in which those at the top not only access the top much more easily but also occupy a

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