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Higher education, credentialism, and social mobility

Brown, Phillip ORCID: 2022. Higher education, credentialism, and social mobility. Cote, James E. and Pickard, Sarah, eds. Routledge Handbook of the Sociology of Higher Education, London, UK: Routledge, pp. 351-362. (10.4324/9781003262497-32)

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This chapter examines the changing relationship between higher education, credential competition, and the graduate labor market, along with the prospects for narrowing inequalities in life-chances and increasing social mobility. It starts with a brief account of ‘positional consensus’ theories that assume a rising demand for university graduates to keep pace with a knowledge-driven economy. It then outlines some of the key challenges transforming the relationship between higher education, credentials, and the labor market, including changes in employer recruitment strategies. Finally, drawing on positional conflict theory, it examines the implications of these changes and challenges for theorizing class (re)production. It explains why policies aimed at building a fairer society through reforms in higher education have led to unintended consequences that have fueled social congestion and hardened inequalities in life-chances. Today, the clash between expectations and institutional realities is the dominant form of conflict in developed economies. But it remains to be seen how this clash will ultimately play out for individuals and the wider society.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 9781003262497
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2022 09:05

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