Was there a golden age?
in Culture is bad for you
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Media and policy discussions sometimes make it seem as if there was a golden age for social mobility into cultural occupations. This chapter interrogates that idea. It shows how social mobility has been a long-standing problem for cultural occupations. First the chapter discusses the key theories of social mobility, differentiating the academic and policy uses of the term.

It then uses the ONS-LS dataset to track social mobility into cultural occupations over time. In the early 1980s someone from a middle-class origin had about four times the odds of entering a cultural job, as compared with working-class origin people. These chances were almost the same in the early 2010s.

The static rates of social mobility into cultural jobs suggests three things. First, that cultural occupations share some social mobility issues that are common in other elite professions. Second, that rather than things getting worse in recent years cultural occupations have perhaps always been exclusive and exclusionary. Third, there is a clear need to understand the mechanisms driving this long-standing problem.

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