Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Skills Inequality, Adult Learning and Social Cohesion In The United Kingdom

an article by Jan Germen Janmaat and Andy Green (Institute of Education, University of London, UK) published in British Journal of Educational Studies Volume 61 Issue 1 (March 2013)


In this article we argue that the legitimacy and stability 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 régime of social cohesion.

Crucial to such a régime 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 objectively 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.

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