What can the sociological analysis of social mobility bring to the immigration debate? Examples and reflections

Zuccotti, C.V. & Platt, L. (2015) 12th European Sociological Association Conference, Prague, 25 - 28 August 2015 [ONS LS]

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There is extensive interest across Europe in ethnic and immigrant inequalities in the labour market, and the extent to which they persist into the second generation. These inequalities have been the subject of a vast array of sociological studies, which have changed how we think about processes of migration and enhanced understanding of migrant diversity. At the same time, sociological analysis of social stratification continues to advance our understanding of social mobility and how it varies across time and space, as well as its relationship to societal levels of social inequality. Social mobility remains a core policy agenda across many European countries and is widely discussed in the media. This demonstrates the continuing salience of this core strand of sociological research and how it has captured the public imagination - but also how it has been co-opted as an alternative to more explicitly egalitarian agendas. In this talk I bring these two bodies of work together - and illustrate the wider implications of such a combined application. Specifically, I discuss the extent to which we can better understand inequalities and diversity across men and women of different ethnic and immigrant groups by taking proper account of social (class and national) origins. Building on existing research, I present a framework for the analysis of immigration/ethnicity and social mobility, which incorporates the contributory role of education. I then draw on new analysis of unique, large scale data sources from the UK and Europe to assess how empirical patterns map on to this framework. I conclude by considering what this means for future patterns of social stratification in European societies, even in the face of changing migration regimes. Acknowledging the limits to the political reach of sociological research, I nevertheless reflect on the ways in which such insights might help to reshape policy understandings currently focused on ethnic disadvantage or on simple dichotomies between 'good' and 'bad' migrants to a broader perspective on migration and minorities.

Available online: Link
Output from project: 04010030


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