To send content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about sending content to .
To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about sending to your Kindle.
Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Due to rising rates of obesity globally, the present study aimed to examine differences in overweight and underweight prevalence in Western Australian schoolchildren in 2008 compared with 2003.
Cross-sectional study at two time points; using two-stage stratified sampling, primary and secondary schools in both metropolitan and non-metropolitan Western Australia; sample selected was representative of the State's population figures.
Seventeen primary and thirteen secondary (2008) and nineteen primary and seventeen secondary (2003) schools. Government and non-government funded schools in metropolitan and non-metropolitan (regional/rural) Western Australia were recruited.
Height and weight were measured for 1708 (961 primary and 747 secondary) students in 2008 and 1694 (876 primary and 817 secondary) students in 2003.
Overweight and obesity prevalence in primary students was similar in 2008 (22·9 %) to 2003 (23·2 %; P > 0·05). In secondary girls overweight and obesity prevalence dropped from 23·1 % (2003) to 15·9 % (2008; P = 0·002). Secondary boys showed a slight decrease in overweight and obesity prevalence; however, this was not statistically significant (P = 0·102). Higher proportions of underweight in primary girls were observed in 2008 (9·9 %) compared with 2003 (4·2 %; P < 0·001) and in secondary girls in 2008 (9·4 %) compared with 2003 (5·5 %; P < 0·001).
Prevalence of overweight and obesity in Western Australian primary students was stable; however, it declined in secondary students. Both primary and secondary girls showed an increase in underweight prevalence. Public health interventions are needed for the high percentage of youth still overweight, whereas the observed increase in underweight girls warrants attention and further investigation.
This chapter and Chapter 5 focus on the mobilisation of cultural resources in the reproduction of advantage. In the introduction, I noted how Goldthorpe initially equated his notion of cultural resources to Bourdieu's concept of cultural capital to refer to the value attached to education within families. He also included issues of occupational inheritance and traditions of self-employment within families. Later, however, he rejected Bourdieu's culturalist explanation of class stability because of its inability to explain change: namely, the increasing participation of both middle-class and working-class children in higher education in the 1950s and 1960s. He also directed hostile criticism at Bourdieu's characterisation of a working class seemingly lacking in cultural capital and suffering from a ‘poverty of aspirations’. Now, as I have argued elsewhere, it is one thing to identify the shortcomings of Bourdieu's theory and another to deny the importance of cultural dispositions and practices in the reproduction of advantage altogether. Despite some of the problems with Bourdieu's work, which plenty of others besides Goldthorpe have noted, I think his ideas about the importance of cultural capital in the reproduction of privilege and power are worth considering further. After all, the previous two chapters illustrated how parents convert their economic capital into cultural capital by investing in a good education for their children so that they acquire the necessary credentials to gain access to desirable jobs. That they invested their financial resources in this way was influenced by the value attached to educational success.
In the Introduction, I outlined Goldthorpe's theory about the mobilisation of different types of resources – economic, cultural and social – in the reproduction of advantage. I noted how Goldthorpe emphasised the crucial importance of economic resources – wealth, income and other forms of capital – in this process because they are exclusive goods (i.e. they are not owned by others) that can be easily transmitted from one generation to another. Thus, with respect to education, middle-class parents with high and stable incomes use their economic resources to buy the best education for their children, especially in the acquisition of educational credentials. Armed with good qualifications, their children are then in the position to apply for high-level jobs that demand the very educational credentials they have bought. Without such economic resources, working-class parents cannot buy the best education for their children so they cannot ensure that their children do well at school and achieve the educational qualifications required for entry into good jobs. Economic resources are the key, therefore, for middle-class and, for that matter, working-class reproduction. The theory, of course, makes the processes of class reproduction sound deceptively simple and straightforward. What about the different demands on income such as the number of children to be educated? What about different choices about how money is spent, including holidays, for example, over education? How can a lack of economic resources be circumvented? How might other sources of economic capital be mobilised?
This important new book is a comparative study of social mobility based on qualitative interviews with middle-class parents in America and Britain. It addresses the key issue in stratification research, namely, the stability of class relations and middle-class reproduction. Drawing on interviewee accounts of how parents mobilised economic, cultural and social resources to help them into professional careers, it then considers how the interviewees, as parents, seek to increase their children's chances of educational success and occupational advancement. Middle-class parents may try to secure their children's social position but it is not an easy or straightforward affair. With the decline of the quality of state education and increased job insecurity in the labour market since the 1970s and 1980s, the reproduction of advantage is more difficult than in the affluent decades of the 1950s and 1960s. The implications for public policy, especially public investment in higher education, are considered.
This appendix is a descriptive account of how I did the research that underpins this book. It focuses on the processes of doing the research by simply discussing the various stages of the project in Britain and America. I have tried to be frank and honest about my experiences in the writing of this narrative rather than offer a sanitised discussion of the methods I employed. Inevitably, however, reflecting back on how I did the research forced me to order my thoughts, think about how I would write up this discussion and so on. I had to find ways of summarising a piece of research that was conducted over quite a lengthy period of time across two countries. This meant that I had to make decisions about topics that I thought interesting and worthy of discussion and issues that I considered less critical and have omitted from this account. It is impossible, in other words, not to ‘clean up’ narratives of research to some degree and it would be disingenuous to suggest otherwise. Be that as it may, I hope the discussion of my experiences in doing this project will be interesting and beneficial to the readers of this book and researchers on other projects. In the following pages, I describe how I contacted doctors and teachers in Britain and America. Then I go on to consider the experience of doing the interviews – especially the extent to which my aide memoire worked – in both countries.
As Bourdieu had led me to expect, the middle-class parents of my American and British interviewees mobilised their cultural resources to facilitate their children's educational and occupational advancement. They assumed and expected that their children would do well in school and they held high occupational aspirations for them. These dispositions and values contributed to the interviewees' success in becoming doctors and teachers. That said, in both countries, the parents of my working-class interviewees did not lack cultural capital. They also placed a high premium on academic success although they hoped rather than assumed that their children would do well. Their occupational horizons were somewhat more modest than their middle-class counterparts but they did not seek to limit their children's aspirations as academic success propelled them onwards. They were keen, in other words, to take up educational opportunities that expanded in the post-war period of prosperity. In this chapter, I turn my attention to how the interviewees, now all middle-class parents, seek to mobilise their cultural resources to ensure their children's educational and occupational success. Most of the interviewees' children were still making their way through the education system although some of them, as young adults, were seeking to establish themselves in the labour market. Despite the diversity in their ages, all of them had been in education from the 1980s onwards when a harsher economic and political climate, including tax cuts reducing the quality of public and state educational provision, took hold.
Attention now turns in this chapter and Chapter 7 to the mobilisation of social resources in the reproduction of advantage. As I outlined in the Introduction, Goldthorpe defined social resources in terms of involvement in social networks that can serve as channels of information and influence in getting a job. He cited the famous research by the American sociologist, Mark Granovetter, on the importance on contacts on careers. Moreover, Goldthorpe argued that social resources are especially important when academic success is not forthcoming. That is to say, parents can call on family and friends to help their less academically able children get good jobs. In the development of an explicit theoretical explanation of middle-class reproduction, however, his initial discussion on the importance of social resources in the reproduction of advantage disappeared from view. In his desire to assert the significance of economic resources and downplay the importance of cultural resources in his critique of Bourdieu, it seemed that Goldthorpe had to ignore social resources as well. Again, I thought this was a shame for precisely the reasons that Goldthorpe initially acknowledged: namely, that networks of a formal and informal kind are often an important source of information and advice in the job search process as Granovetter described. The consequence of this neglect – probably an unintended rather than an intended consequence of Goldthorpe's attack on Bourdieu's ideas – was that he could no longer consider the interconnections between social resources and economic (and cultural) resources.
My parents were born in Ireland in 1931. My mother was the eleventh of thirteen children bought up on a small farm in Southern Ireland that passed down through her mother's side when her brothers went to America. Her father had been a valet for Lord Kenmare in Killarney and then London before returning home. When my mother finished her education at the age of sixteen in the late 1940s, she took the boat train to England where she joined some of her siblings. She spent most of her working life in London as the banqueting secretary at the Charing Cross Hotel. My father was the fourth of six children brought up in Northern Ireland. While his mother raised the children in Derry, she also made a living sewing. His father was in the British Army and, after the Second World War, he stayed in London where he was an electrician's mate until he retired. My father, I think, finished school at fifteen and then did shop work before joining the Merchant Navy at eighteen. He left at twenty-one and moved to London in the early 1950s where he joined the Post Office and lived with his father. My parents married in 1959 and my three siblings and I were born soon after. Rather than bring children up in London, they moved to Bournemouth in 1968.
I started this book on an autobiographical note talking about my personal experiences of social mobility and that of my sisters and brother. Despite our modest background, my youngest sister Deirdre and myself had the opportunity to go to university and get good professional jobs. Although Barbara did not go on into higher education, she took up the opportunity to train as a nurse in her early twenties and enjoyed mobility into a semi-profession. My brother John did not take up opportunities at school and college. It meant he started work in a lowly position in a factory and experienced redundancy more than once. That said, he has subsequently enjoyed work–life mobility to secure his current managerial position. In our different ways, we have been very fortunate and, yes, even though I am a sociologist, I would say we have been very lucky. I also stressed in the Introduction, however, that such stories of mobility are ‘two a penny’. The sociological evidence shows that lots of people in Britain have enjoyed mobility from working-class origins to middle-class destinations, via education or otherwise, since the 1940s. It has not been unusual for social mobility to be of the long-range kind either – including mobility from unskilled manual origins to high-level professional destinations. Comparative research also indicates that social mobility is very common in America too.
The mobilisation of economic resources by parents certainly helped my American and British interviewees from affluent backgrounds in the pursuit of educational and occupational success as Goldthorpe's theory led me to expect. They were especially useful in risky situations that might jeopardise advancement. A lack of economic resources, however, did not hold back the interviewees from more modest class backgrounds in either country, somewhat contrary to Goldthorpe's theory. Academic success was, of course, crucial and soft money from various sources made up for the absence of financial assistance from parents not in a position to help out. In other words, the mobilisation of resources increased the probability of academic success although a lack of economic resources did not necessarily limit educational and occupational advancement. That said, the experience of competition for good jobs was much easier for the more affluent and far harsher for those from modest backgrounds. These are the key findings of Chapter 2. This chapter focuses on the interviewees as parents and their accounts of how they were applying or had applied their economic resources to help their kids do well in school and get good jobs. Despite their diverse class backgrounds, the interviewees are now, of course, all in middle-class jobs in medicine and teaching although diversity persists in that the medics would be described as upper middle class by Americans and middle class by the British and the teachers would be described as middle class by Americans and lower middle class by the British.
In Chapter 6, I drew on Coleman's work on social capital and the way in which parents use their social networks of interpersonal relations in the local community as a resource to help their children in the education system. According to the interviewees, both middle-class and working-class parents mobilised their social resources to their advantage. I also drew on Granovetter's ideas about the importance of social contacts on careers and considered how the interviewees of different class backgrounds mobilised their own social contacts in becoming medics and educators. The interviewees of upper-middle-class and middle-class origins could certainly draw on their parental social networks but so could my informants of more modest social status. Once again, I now consider my interviewees as middle-class parents mobilising their social resources to ensure their children's educational and occupational advancement. Given that most of my interviewees' children were still making their way through the school system in both countries, attention focuses on social capital and educational success. The role of social contacts in the forging of new careers among the interviewees' older children will be considered more briefly. Attention is not limited to the ways in which social resources come into their own only when academic success is not forthcoming. This is in contrast to both Goldthorpe and Bourdieu who viewed them as important only in terms of a strategy of last resort. Rather, I will consider how social resources are mobilised, indeed deeply embedded, in the process of acquiring educational credentials as well.