Blog post

Owen Jones for the Guardian: "Social mobility is a dead end"

Sarah Shin 1 March 2011

Owen Jones, writing for the Guardian, takes apart "the common language of today's political establishment"—the discourse of 'social mobility'—noting that it is merely

the idea of creaming off a small minority of able working-class kids and catapulting them into the middle classes. You accept the class system, merely offering ladders for some to escape the bottom.

Quoting the Scottish socialist John McLean's call "Rise with your class, not out of it," Jones argues that the notion of social mobility diverts attention from the root causes of inequality in society and that 

Instead of putting social mobility at the heart of politics, we should emphasise the social worth of working-class jobs and support struggles to have pay and conditions that reflect it ... 

Rather than embracing the individualism of social mobility, we need a collective approach. In the four years before the recession hit, the real wages of the bottom half were stagnating; for the bottom third, they actually declined. The inability of our greatly weakened trade unions to fight the corner of working people is a major reason, because there was no major countervailing force to the ever-growing concentration of wealth at the top. At the heart of politics should be a determination to improve the lives of working-class people as a class, rather than focusing on ways to somehow rescue a small minority.

Visit the Guardian to read the article in full. 

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