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Thursday, 28th August 2014

Elitist Britain?

Source: Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission (UK)

From Foreword:

This report from the Commission on Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission examines who is in charge of our country. It does so on the basis of new research which has analysed the background of 4,000 leaders in politics, business, the media and other aspects of public life in the UK. This research highlights a dramatic over-representation of those educated at independent schools and Oxbridge across the institutions that have such a profound influence on what happens in our country. It suggests that Britain is deeply elitist.

That matters for a number of reasons. In a democratic society, institutions – from the law to the media – derive their authority in part from how inclusive and grounded they are. Locking out a diversity of talents and experiences makes Britain’s leading institutions less informed, less representative and, ultimately, less credible than they should be. Where institutions rely on too narrow a range of people from too narrow a range of backgrounds with too narrow a range of experiences they risk behaving in ways and focussing on issues that are of salience only to a minority but not the majority in society....

This risks narrowing the conduct of public life to a small few, who are very familiar with each other but far less familiar with the day-to-day challenges facing ordinary people in the country. That is not a recipe for a healthy democratic society.

To confront the challenges and seize the opportunities that Britain faces, a broader range of experiences and talents need to be harnessed. Few people believe that the sum total of talent in Britain resides in just seven per cent of pupils in our country’s schools and less than two per cent of students in our universities. The risk, however, is that the more a few dominate our country’s leading institutions the less likely it is that the many believe they can make a valuable contribution.

+ Direct link to Report (PDF; 6 MB)


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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

Adrian can be reached at adrian.janes@freepint.com

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