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What causes social inequality? How intersecting disadvantages shape lives

Responses to audience questions - 'What causes social inequality?' webinar Q & A.pdf

Chair: Professor Cristina Iannelli (University of Edinburgh)

Speakers: Professor Mike Savage (London School of Economics), Professor Emer Smyth (Economic and Social Research Institute), Dr Francesca Fiori (University of St Andrews) and Dr Ivan Privalko (Economic and Social Research Institute).

Discussant: Revati Campbell MSYP (Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament for Dundee West and Convener of the SYP’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee)

Understanding what causes inequality is all the more important in a world in which access to learning and employment has been reshaped by the pandemic restrictions. This webinar presents new thinking on the drivers of social inequality and shows how focusing on only one aspect of inequality such as social class gives an incomplete view of the intersecting disadvantages shaping the lives of individuals, families and communities.

The webinar will include short presentations on the need to update the concept of class, the importance of analysing the influence of multiple family background factors and experiences, as well the impact of school experiences on children’s outcomes:

Analysing social class in an era of increased inequality

Professor Savage will reflect on how the recognition of increasing economic inequality in many nations, and across the globe, is challenging orthodox conceptions of social class based on employment and occupation. He will discuss how economics and sociology can be synthesised to develop a model of class based on foregrounding wealth inequality as the major driver of class divisions today.

Disadvantaged families or disadvantaged schools?

Professor Smyth will use Scottish and Irish data to look at the sources of inequality in outcomes for children and young people. She will adopt a multidimensional approach to inequality, looking at the extent to which educational outcomes vary by parental social class, education and income as well the concentration of disadvantage at neighbourhood and/or school level.

Residential mobility and children’s outcomes in early and middle childhood

Dr Fiori will use Growing Up in Scotland data to explore the relationship between residential mobility and outcomes in early childhood. The focus is on the intersection between social inequality and residential mobility. Whereas more advantaged families will often make intentional moves to better housing or to gain access to better local services, disadvantaged families are more at risk of unplanned moves and of a deterioration in their life chances. Families might also differ in the (social, financial and emotional) resources they have to cope with the stress associated with a move and the implications it can have for their children.

The transition to secondary school in Scotland: unequal pathways?

Also using Growing Up in Scotland data, Dr Privalko looks at the simultaneous influence of social class, parental education, household income and area-level deprivation on young people’s difficulties making the transition to secondary education. He identifies the aspects of family background that have the greatest impact and the extent to which this inequality operates through the home learning environment or children’s own engagement with school.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020 - 15:00 to 16:30

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