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How Much Social Mobility Is Really Happening?

Katie Tyler

16th November 2022

Over the weekend it was Social Class Gap Day - a similar concept to Equal Pay Day (which falls next weekend!) which illustrates the gender pay gap.

Alan Milburn, in an article for the Observer, highlights that professionals from a working-class background are paid on average approximately £7,000 less compared to their middle-class counterparts for doing the same job. Yes the same job. Arguably there is greater social mobility in the UK today: at first glance it may appear that professionals from working-class backgrounds are increasingly mobile. However, research sponsored by the Social Mobility Foundation would suggest that while working-class people are increasingly mobile in terms of occupation, they are not getting equal pay. There are various sociological explanations for this and possible links to lots of aspects of Sociology courses, including to the sociology of education as well as social stratification.

Unfortunately this economic gap gets even wider when you apply other social factors, such as gender and ethnicity. This supports the importance of recognising the impact of intersectionality as highlighted by Triple System Feminists.

Some companies, such as KMPG, are publishing their employees’ pay based on social-class background, which may help to keep such companies accountable for any pay gap.

Katie Tyler

Katie is an experienced Sociology teacher and examiner.

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