In this article we pursue, using appropriate British birth cohort data, various issues that arise from recent research into the ‘direct’ effect of social origins on individuals’ social mobility chances: i.e. the effect that is not mediated by education and that can be seen as giving rise to non-meritocratic ‘glass floors’ and ‘glass ceilings’. We show that if educational level is determined at labour market entry, class destinations are significantly associated with class origins independently of education. However, we go on to investigate how far the direct effect may be underestimated by an insufficiently comprehensive treatment of social origins, and also how far it may be overestimated by a failure to take into account the effects of later-life education and resulting changes in individuals’ relative qualification levels. Finally, having arrived at our best estimates of the extent of the direct effect, we seek to identify factors that mediate it. While individuals’ cognitive ability and sense of locus of control prove to play some part, reported parental help in the labour market does not appear to be of any great importance. Some implications of our findings both for further research and for the ideal of an education-based meritocracy are considered.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1093/esr/jcx043, hdl.handle.net/1765/120671
Journal European Sociological Review
Citation
Gugushvili, A, Bukodi, E., & Goldthorpe, J. (2017). The Direct Effect of Social Origins on Social Mobility Chances:‘Glass Floors’ and ‘Glass Ceilings’ in Britain. European Sociological Review, 33(2), 305–316. doi:10.1093/esr/jcx043