This is a concept associated with Action theorist Max Weber.
Broadly, Social Closure suggests that dominant elites protect their privileges by closing off the routes to higher status that lower groups might otherwise have taken.
This is achieved by ‘networking’ (the ‘old school tie’ syndrome), language, private members clubs, dress codes, behavioural patterns and education.
For instance ‘endogamy’ - marrying within one’s class.
All of these serve to exclude others from the elite, shoring up their status while ensuring that others remain where they are.
You should be aware of any studies which seem to offer evidence of low social mobility (i.e. Ianelli and Paterson, Edinburgh University, 2005, who suggest that social mobility is on the decline within the UK)
A number of studies (i.e. Goldthorpe or the Oxford Studies – Glass, ’49) have been conducted to ascertain the rates of class mobility in the UK. Recent research suggests that we are a less mobile nation than we were 50 years ago.
In ‘Social Mobility: An Overview of the Evidence’ (2004) the government itself finds that a middle class child is 15 times more likely to stay middle class than a working class child is to become middle class.
A baby’s fate is fixed at 22 months. Deprived of a rich culture, language, expectations and self-esteem (‘cultural capital’), children begin to fall behind before they reach school .
Only 1% of the population earn £100,00. How much do you think the average UK wage is? Does these differentials matter?
The TUC – ‘Commission on Vulnerable Employment’ (2008)
Number of poor children living in working households – 1.4 million. This figure has not shifted since the Labour party came to power in 1997.
50% of children living in poverty have a parent in work.
One fifth of all UK workers (5.3 million people) are paid less than £6.67 an hour, two thirds of the median wage. The chance of an employer being inspected by Minimum Wage officials is once every 330 years.
The Compass think tank (2008) also offer some sobering statistics: while half of Britain’s population own just 6% of its wealth, the top 1% own a quarter of it.
The top 10% of the UK population owns 54% of the wealth and that’s ‘only what they declare, ’ whilst the ‘bottom tenth pays 38% of its earnings in direct and indirect taxation, while the top tenth pays 34% - and top tax avoiders pay far less.’ (Toynbee 2008)
The total remuneration packages of the chief executives of the 30 biggest UK companies rose 33% in 2007-08. (Toynbee 2008)
Greg Philo (The Guardian, 2010):
‘ We are a very wealthy nation (the total personal wealth is £9,000 billion), a sum that dwarves the national debt. It is mostly concentrated at the top, so the richest 10% own £4,000bn, with an average per household of £4m. The bottom half of our society own just 9%.’
Know Your Incomes! ‘ Boosting social mobility without addressing income inequality is like trying to diet without worrying about calories.’ R. Wilkinson, co-author of ‘the Spirit Level.’ (2008)
18 of the 29 present Cabinet Ministers (writing in 2010) are millionaires.
Between 2000 and 2010, the total pay awarded to the top executives at FTSE 100 companies ballooned by more than 160%. Executive pay in the smaller FTSE 250 companies increased by 118% (Income Data Services 2010).
How would the perspectives of Functionalism and Marxism explain such huge salaries?
In polling conducted by the Compass think tank (2010), only 9% of people correctly estimated that the average chief executive of a FTSE 100 company is paid more than £4m a year.
At the other end of the spectrum, 61% of poor children live in working households, the victims of ‘poverty pay’ (2010).
How aware do you believe the UK public are of these kinds of figures?
THE 1:2:3 RULE OF RELATIVE HOPE (Kellner and Wilby, 1980)
WHATEVER THE CHANCE A BOY FROM A WORKING-CLASS BACKGROUND HAS OF REACHING SOCIAL CLASS I OR II, A BOY FROM A LOWER MIDDLE-CLASS FAMILY HAS ABOUT TWICE THE CHANCE AND A BOY FROM AN UPPER MIDDLE-CLASS FAMILY HAS ABOUT THREE TIMES THE CHANCE OF ENTERING CLASS I OR II AS AN ADULT. THIS CLEARLY SHOWS AN INEQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY IN THE CHANCES OF UPWARD MOBILITY IN BRITAIN