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I don't think Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright will be at all surprised.
February 14, 2013 9:13 AM   Subscribe

It's good to be the Kinga Micklethwait. A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but a new study of unusual surnames offers some depressing insights into the lingering impact of class on social mobility.
posted by Diablevert (14 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have been saying that social mobility is a multi-generational thing for a long time.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:35 AM on February 14, 2013


"Mr Clark’s conclusion is that the underlying rate of social mobility is both low and surprisingly constant across countries and eras: the introduction of universal secondary education scarcely affects intergenerational mobility rates in Britain, for example."

Finally the economist says what we in the UK all know - the rich walk different streets to us poor, always have, always will. Funny how everyone points to the past as the Golden Age - "You've never had it so good" which, while true, in reality just meant slightly bigger crumbs for us to scrap over.

They have their own schools (the best ones), universities (the best ones), jobs (the best ones), houses (the best ones). Ad nauseum. Serious question - Mefites know how fucked up everything is, about social inequality and the really bad stuff I read about on here all the time (thanks jeff and homunculous and tmotat et al ;) ) - how the fuck do you people cope with the constant shitiness of it all? I am serious, I just feel like ending it sometimes.

Also +1 for the Wooster reference.
posted by marienbad at 9:38 AM on February 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Once again, social science demonstrates the profound utility of the guillotine.
posted by R. Schlock at 9:39 AM on February 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Once again, social science demonstrates the profound utility of the guillotine.

That's a bit extreme, don't you think?

...it's a lot easier to just cover the head with mashed potatoes.
posted by griphus at 9:44 AM on February 14, 2013


This consistency, he suggests, shows that low mobility may be down to differences in underlying “social competence”. Such competence is potentially heritable and is reinforced by the human tendency to mate with partners of similar traits and ability.

Perhaps, together, we can disprove that. I am not sure that the poor are as "socially incompetent" as that implies.

And that, in turn, is perhaps the answer to this rather despairing comment -

how the fuck do you people cope with the constant shitiness of it all? I am serious, I just feel like ending it sometimes.

- work together to change it. One person despairing on his or her own achieves nothing. Ten thousand people working together can achieve anything.
posted by lucien_reeve at 9:59 AM on February 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Indeed, it may take as long as 300-500 years for high- and low-status families to produce descendants with equal chances of being in various parts of the income spectrum.
That's the key quote here, and it shocks me just how long such an outcome takes. Society has so much to gain by helping individual determine their own position on their own merit, and not be tied down by their forebears. Think of all the brilliant folk we've lost because they've been swept away by generational poverty, and all the incompetent folk who gain position solely because they're born wealthy. We could have a great society, if only we took meritocracy in earnest.
posted by Jehan at 10:02 AM on February 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


One person despairing on his or her own achieves nothing. Ten thousand people working together can achieve anything.

Perhaps; although the implications for that hypothesis of research like this are, at the very least, troubling. R.Schlock's throw-away line above about the guillotine, for example, references one pretty famous example of many thousands of people "working together" to change the state into one of universal opportunity. No one with even the slightest familiarity of C19th French history would suggest that they succeeded in any meaningful way, however. To be born poor in 1820 Paris was no improvement over being born poor in 1820 London--and London had managed to bypass the devastating slaughter involved in the French Revolution.

Revolutions, like other forms of calamitous social upheaval, certainly provide momentary opportunities for rapid social mobility for a few (see Napoleon, for example), but these effects seem to be relatively transient. So transient, indeed, that it's pretty hard to see the violence and suffering unleashed by the revolution as in any way justified by the post-revolutionary rewards. Who here would choose to live in, say, post-revolutionary China, Russia or Cuba over, say, Sweden, Denmark, or Norway--all of which managed to avoid a revolutionary moment?
posted by yoink at 10:12 AM on February 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


> how the fuck do you people cope with the constant shitiness of it all?

Kitteh pics and self-medication, just like everyone else..
posted by scruss at 10:28 AM on February 14, 2013 [4 favorites]



how the fuck do you people cope with the constant shitiness of it all?


it will all be over soon don't sweat it. If not for your after-bearers quite yet YOU for sure are persisting at a half life that is decaying ever more quickly minute by minute.

some of us have twice the life span and quite nothing to do to distract us from our lack of potential downward mobility. Consider that!

Good day Sir,

Feckelson Tinthorpus
posted by Colonel Panic at 11:11 AM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


> This consistency, he suggests, shows that low mobility may be down to differences in underlying “social competence”. Such competence is potentially heritable and is reinforced by the human tendency to mate with partners of similar traits and ability.

Wow. That went from zero to victim-blaming at record speed.
posted by edheil at 11:57 AM on February 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maurice Micklewhite would agree.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:59 PM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've done a certain amount of genealogy, and one thing I noticed was that there was no upward social mobility except at times of disruptive change. If you lived in the same place as your parents then you would almost always have the same life and social status as they did. A tenant farmer would never end up owning their own farm; a carter would never end up owning their own house. There was certainly downwards social movement by people who never got their feet on the first rung of the ladder: farmhands who got injured, maids who got pregnant and so forth. They would almost always die in poverty. But I remember a family I traced over two hundred years, in which there was only one person who arguably ended up in a different social stratum: he joined the navy and eventually became Lieutenant Governor of, I think, Barbados. Other than that, they were all tenant farmers and farmhands.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:35 PM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright will be at all surprised.

"I am familiar with the name Bassington-Bassington, sir. There are three branches of the Bassington-Bassington family - the Shropshire Bassington-Bassingtons, the Hampshire Bassington-Bassingtons, and the Kent Bassington-Bassingtons."

"England seems pretty well stocked up with Bassington-Bassingtons."

"Tolerably so, sir."

"No chance of a sudden shortage, I mean, what?"

[cite]

(I feel compelled to comment in this thread because of my username.)
posted by Ralston McTodd at 4:16 PM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Excellent timing -- Sir Pelham shuffled off his mortal coil 38 years ago today.
posted by phliar at 5:09 PM on February 14, 2013


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