Education and Social Mobility 1870 - 1914: a Study of Four Schools in the Registration District of Hitchin in Hertfordshire
Tyler, Helen Anne
Social mobility and how it should be measured is an important topic for sociologists and historians. However, there have been very few studies on the link between social mobility and the introduction of a state education system into England. Previous studies have measured social mobility using occupational data from the census and then have related occupations to social status due to the nature of occupations being relevant to social status, as well as a person’s economic situation. This study contributes to existing research by conducting a localised case study, to drill deep into the records and thus offer more specific evidence than generalised surveys. The research involves using a main sample group of two hundred scholars taken from four schools in the registration district of Hitchin, all of whom underwent education soon after the 1870 Education Act. Examining the occupation of their head of household as a scholar and then the occupation they themselves went on to experience is used as a comparison to measure social mobility. A comparative group of another two hundred children from the same area who were of schooling age in 1851 are examined and their social mobility measured in the same way, using their head of household’s occupation in 1851 and their adult occupation in 1871, to emphasise the difference in social mobility between the two groups and show the difference between the two time periods. Using an occupational hierarchy system from an 1895 census return as a measurement of social mobility demonstrates upward social mobility of the sample group, demonstrating a link between social mobility and the introduction of state education.