The influence of social-class origins on the choice of course, career preferences, and entry to employment of CNAA graduates
The aim of the thesis is to explore the social-class origins and destinations of CNAA graduates. The thesis begins with a discussion of social class, its meaning and conceptualization, and social-class schemas are devised for analysing the origins and destinations of graduates. Social class, however, is defined in a broad sense to include the dimensions of gender and ethnicity. Polytechnics and colleges are shown to have a higher proportion of working-class and black students than the universities. But despite their commitment to expanding educational opportunities public sector institutions remain socially exclusive in so far as they draw the bulk of their students from more middle-class backgrounds. Likewise, although public sector institutions appear to have expanded opportunities for women, female students are found to be concentrated in a limited number of courses. The career destinations of graduates are examined next. Significant differences were found relating to social-class or1g1ns with a tendency for men from manual backgrounds, women and black graduates to enter lower-status occupations. These differences appear only partly to arise from differences in career aspirations. It is suggested that black and women graduates may be subject to some discrimination. Significant differences are found in the destinations of graduates according to their courses of study, and once allowance is made for this, the existing relationship between the social-class origins and destinations of graduates becomes much less marked. An attempt is made to explain the relationship between the social-class or1g1ns and destinations of graduates and their courses of study using the models of contest and sponsored mobility devised by Turner. Using a four-fold categorization of school curriculums, it was shown that those graduates who had undertaken a 'utilitarian' school curriculum were constrained as regards their choice of course, whilst those who had undertaken an 'academic' curriculum and had been sponsored through secondary education enjoyed a greater choice of degree subject. Graduates from working-class or1g1ns were found to be more likely than their middle-class peers to have undertaken a 'utilitarian' curriculum.