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Skills inequality, adult learning and social cohesion in the United Kingdom

Janmaat, G; Green, A; (2013) Skills inequality, adult learning and social cohesion in the United Kingdom. British Journal of Educational Studies , 61 (1) pp. 7-24.

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Abstract

In this article we argue that the legitimacy of the social and political order in Britain is undermined by persistent inequalities of skills and opportunities. We first contend that British society is characterised by a liberal regime of social cohesion. Crucial to such a regime is the belief in individual opportunity and rewards based on merit. We demonstrate, through comparative analysis, that skills inequality is actually higher and social mobility lower in Britain than in other western countries. Also the perception of equal opportunities is lower. In Britain there is thus a mismatch between the cherished ideal of meritocracy and the reality of a stratified society, both objective and perceived. This, we postulate, is likely to contribute to the political alienation of disadvantaged groups. We argue that in theory adult learning could reduce the skills gap but that in reality it only magnifies skills inequality since in Britain the well educated and people in work have higher participation rates than the poorly educated and unemployed.

Type: Article
Title: Skills inequality, adult learning and social cohesion in the United Kingdom
Keywords: adult learning, inequality, social cohesion
UCL classification: UCL > School of Education
UCL > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Education, Practice & Society
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1545888
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