Exploring the Intersection of Ethnicity


Collins, M., Collins, G. and Butt, G., 2015. Social mobility or social reproduction? A case study of the attainment patterns of students according to their social background and ethnicity. Educational Review, 67(2), pp.196-217.

Li, Y., 2018. Integration journey: The social mobility trajectory of ethnic minority groups in Britain. Social Inclusion, 6(3), pp.270-281.

Platt, L., 2007. Making education count: the effects of ethnicity and qualifications on intergenerational social class mobility. The Sociological Review, 55(3), pp.485-508.

Platt, L., 2003. The intergenerational social mobility of minority ethnic groups. ISER Working Paper Series, No. 2003-24, University of Essex, Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER), Colchester

Wakeling, P. and Laurison, D., 2017. Are postgraduate qualifications the ‘new frontier of social mobility’?. The British journal of sociology, 68(3), pp.533-555.


Bagguley, P. and Hussain, Y., 2016. Negotiating mobility: South Asian women and higher education. Sociology, 50(1), pp.43-59.

Social mobility refers to the evolution of people, families or other socio-economic units between positions of contrasting advantage in the arrangement of society’s’ social stratification (Muller and Polak 2015). Society’s character can often be revealed by rates of social mobility. Ethnic minority groups in the United Kingdom as per the 2011 census account for 19.5% of the population (Strauss, 2017).

Collins, Collins and Butt (2013) aim at exploring the achievement levels of boys in a school in Birmingham while putting into account their socio-economic background as well as their ethnicity. They also focus on the impact of these socio-economic factors have on the school going boys. Li (2008) further analyses the connection between first and second generation education with those of the white majority. Platt (2007), evaluates the interaction between ethnicity and class and the function of education in order to improve the comprehension of mobility mechanisms in Britain. In Platt’s (2003) study, the main focus is on intergenerational social mobility of various ethnic groups in Britain between 1971-1991. Whereas Wakeling & Laurison (2017) study how social origin, occupational outcome and postgraduate degree achievement relate, Bagguley & Hussain (2016) focus on the rise in participation of British South Asian women in higher education. Generally, the studies highlight the impact of education on the social mobility of ethnic minority groups in the United Kingdom.

The First journal by Collins, Collins and Butt (2013) issued questionnaires to participating students to gather data on how they feel about school and what factors they thought affected their performance. They complemented this data by carrying out a case study on sampled schools. Platt (2007) used the ONS longitudinal Study to observe parents’ traits for children of different ethnicities during their childhood. This study follows over time a one percent sample chosen in the 1971 census and was updated at each census, allowing data from 1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001 to be available. The fifth journal by Wakeling and Laurison (2017) used UK Quarterly Labour Force Survey (LFS) which is a national representative sample survey for working age population. Bagguley and Hussein (2016) used two research sites after data examination of the 2001 census. They also conducted interviews in regards to data collection. Li (2018) used data from the UKHLS focusing only on the first three waves. The UKHLS has a large population sample which can provide a more detailed details on different ethnicities as well as extensive data on parents and respondents’’ socio-economic position as well as education and occupation achievements.

According to the Collins, Collins and Butt (2013), school boys from black and minority ethnic groups performed worse in school especially in GCSEs than white British boys. Low aspiration from poor environments was also found to be a factor that affected performance in schools. Li (2008) reported and decline in first generation class position declined while the second-generation ethnic minority group is catching up with the dominant white majority. From Li’s study, 65% of Chinese and 53% of Indian men have managed to attain degree level education, which is almost double that of white men at 23%. In spite of this Li further indicates that second generation minorities outdo their white peers in education but does not translate into equal employment opportunities or wages. Platt (2007) found a relationship between education and intergenerational class mobility. Children with parents who had high education qualifications were bound to attain higher education themselves. Upward mobility is achieved when education is factored in minority groups. Platt (2003) reported that there are distinctive styles of class mobility and retention which differ among different minority groups as well as between minority groups and the majority (white). Wakeling and Laurison (2017) report shows that the number of ethnic minorities qualified to attain degrees has been on the rise. Though the number of women attaining post graduate degrees is still not as high as those of men, there is not much advantage as relatively few people hold a first degree. Wakeling and Laurison discuss the importance of a postgraduate degree especially when the young minorities are all aiming for a degree, this will enable one to distinguish oneself from other people in the job market.

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The strengths of the reviewed journals on social mobility show the importance of education to ethnic minorities. Platt (2007) states that while the majority white depends on background as a determinant for success; minority groups put educational qualifications as their determinant for any success they might experience. Higher educational levels are equated to higher levels of achievements. Li (2008) further states that minority children from poor backgrounds are more determined to perform well in school than white children of the same social class. Platt (2003) found a limitation in her study in that all ethnic groups have been found to differ from each other even within themselves as they have different backgrounds and practices. Addressing issues of ethnic integration therefore requires a further study as to how they evolve over time, family background, education attainment as well as job market they aim for. Despite the ability of all minority groups to advance in education, some of the ethnic minorities such as the Bangladesh/Pakistani are still at a disadvantage as compared to other ethnic minorities. They have been marginalized and have a much slower rise in social mobility as compared to other minority groups. (Platt, 2003). Indians and Chinese are higher in the hierarchy in labour market while the Bangladesh and black Africans are lagging behind (Li, 2008).

The reviewed papers differ in data collection and analysis methods as well as sample of the population used in their research. Collins, Collins and Butt (2015) focused their study on school boys and the impact of their backgrounds on their GCSE results. They also used a combination of qualitative and quantitative data collection method in their report as compared to Platt (2003, 2007) who used secondary data from census reports focusing on both males and females in her sample population. Bagguley and Hussain (2016) on the other hand focused their study on South Asian women and how the women are breaking the norm by attaining postgraduate degrees in UK.

The similarities of these journals are that they all focus on the effect of education on social mobility of ethnic minority groups. Though the journals focus on different ethnicities, they retain a focus on education and social class impact that education level has on the ethnic minority groups. Li (2018) analyzed the processes of social mobility amongst ethnic minorities over different generations as did Platt (2007).


Müller, W. and Pollak, R., 2015. Mobility, social.

Strauss, A.L., 2017. The contexts of social mobility: Ideology and theory. Transaction Publishers.

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