The Trouble With Social Mobility


2019011120190908 (R4)Social mobility is that rare species: an idea popular across the political spectrum. After all, what reasonable person could object to talented young people from less privileged backgrounds being given access to top universities, top jobs, and top pay?

As a beneficiary of social mobility himself, Byron Vincent certainly doesn't. But he does have some questions about the practical effects on individuals and on the communities they leave behind. And he wonders whether the idea itself helps reinforce notions about the deserving versus undeserving poor - and whether the political focus on helping the talented blocks a broader discussion about opportunity and poverty.

In this programme Byron speaks to a variety of people who, like him, have been socially mobile. From rapper and social activist Darren McGarvey in Glasgow, to primary school deputy head Michael Merrick in Carlisle, and author and comedian Jackie Hagan in Manchester, he hears about the challenges facing those who are forced to move away to seek opportunity, and what happens to those who are left behind.

Producer: Giles Edwards

Byron Vincent raises some practical, and moral, questions about social mobility.