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Considerations on the Role of the School in Social Mobility



The role of the school in the process of status attainment for individuals with different social origins should be analysed both from the perspective of social mobility flows (absolute rates of mobility) and inequality of social chances (relative rates and odds ratios). Inspired by Raymond Boudon’s earlier studies in the 1970s, the author scrutinises the complex relationships between expanding access to higher levels of education, social mobility trajectories, and inequality of chances of status achievement in the context of persistent inequalities in contemporary capitalist societies. He concludes that at the societal level, an increase of the dependency of achieved social status on educational qualification will lead to greater immobility if the inequality of educational chances remains constant. At the level of individuals, the same process will lead to greater probability of upward mobility in the case of people with higher levels of educational qualification, and greater probability of downward mobility for those with lower educational qualification.