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Business and social mobility into the British elite 1870-1914

Foreman-Peck, James S. ORCID: and Smith, Julia 2003. Business and social mobility into the British elite 1870-1914. [Working Paper]. Economics Section Departmental Working Papers, Cardiff: Cardiff Business School. Available at:

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This paper tests the claim that business stimulated general social mobility into the British elite during the heyday of the laissez-faire Victorian economy. It also investigates an alternative hypothesis that the ‘rise of the professions’ was the main driver. Intergenerational mobility into the elite was indeed higher among those with manually employed fathers working in business than among the non-business elites in Britain between 1870 and 1914. In addition two potential influences on mobility, education and religion, varied significantly between the classes. Educational divergences reflected the different markets at which those upwardly mobile in business, the professions and the civil service were aimed. Religious variations mirrored class position without independent effects on mobility. Despite a positive business contribution, mobility from the sons of manual workers was extremely low. Availability of capital was a key, not only for elite entry through business, but also for the formal education that determined access to the professions.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Additional Information: A version of this paper appeared in Journal of European Economic History (2004) 33 (3). pp. 485-518.
Publisher: Cardiff Business School
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2022 12:02

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