Socio-spatial mobilities and narratives of class identity in Britain.

Research paper by Andrew A Miles, Adrian A Leguina

Indexed on: 24 Dec '18Published on: 24 Dec '18Published in: The British Journal of Sociology


In this article we carry out the most comprehensive analysis of social and spatial mobility in the UK to date and the first to directly link different dimensions of mobility to processes of social class formation. Using new analytical techniques in this field, we integrate quantitative and qualitative data from the 1958 Birth Cohort Study, combining text-mining and correspondence analysis in order to examine the intersection of geographical and social mobility with class identities. This work reflects a revival of interest in the spatialization of class inequalities, which is connected to policy concerns about the regional dimension of Britain's mobility 'crisis' that have intensified in the wake of the 'Brexit' vote. We find that the South's role as an 'escalator' region for upward mobility has continued and that the relationship between social and spatial mobility both confirms and qualifies the role of London and the South East in generating inequalities. We show that different migration-mobility transitions are associated with distinctive and contrasting class identity narratives. Those who move from North to South stand out in particular for the way their 'class talk' reveals the social disorientation that attends their success. The contrasting ways in which other groups express their social identities suggests that the interplay of geographical and social mobilities performs a significant role in regional cultural divisions. © London School of Economics and Political Science 2018.