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Social Mobility in the United Kingdom

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Social mobility

  1. Outline

Social mobility is a very relevant and discussed topic in the United Kingdom. Everyone has their own opinion on what exact role the government should play in the problem with overcoming social differences. David Cameron, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, held a speech on the Big Society in Liverpool briefly after he got elected in 2010. In his speech, he enlightens his long-planned idea about the Big Society. David Cameron mentions the budget deficit problem and expresses that “to micromanage from the centre” (p. 1 l. 26) is not the way to improve things in society. He thinks that people should “feel both free and powerful enough to help themselves and their own communities” (p. 1 l. 24) In the article “I benefited from social mobility – and I still feel like a permanent outsider”, The Guardian, 29th of November 2017, Rebecca Nicholson writes about social mobility’s personal impact on her life. She explains the disadvantages that follow when ascending and benefiting from social mobility. The article “Are Oxford and Cambridge universities fostering “social apartheid”?”, The Economist, 20th of October 2017, discusses whether Oxford and Cambridge are to blame for the low number of black A-level students. They think that the “Black pupils’ problems start long before they are old enough to go to university” (p. 2 l. 23) but that the universities should do more to attract black applicants.

  1. Analysis

David Cameron uses a lot of rhetorical devices to engage the reader. One of these devices could be the modes of persuasions where he uses pathos and ethos a lot. Some examples of David Cameron using pathos could be: “The things that fire you up in the morning…that you truly believe will make a real difference to the country you love” (p. 1 l. 9) and “we need people to come together and work together – because we’re all in this together” (p. 2 l. 3). David Cameron appeals to the reader’s feelings by empowering their national feeling. He embraces the love to the fatherland and encourages people to stand together. David Cameron uses ethos by mentioning: “when I ran for the leadership of the Conservative party, when I was elected” (p. 1 l. 12). He has a high status as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and by emphasizing his status, he gains more trust and strengthens his reliability.

        Metaphors are also present in the speech by David Cameron. An example on a metaphor is: “…something that doesn’t just pour money down the throat of wasteful, top-down government schemes” (p. 2 l. 1). The use of this metaphor amplifies his opinion and point of view. He throws light on the problem and awakens the reader by denigrating the present government, and by creating an exaggerated picture of where the country’s money is going at the moment.

        David Cameron uses the rhetorical device called anaphora. An example could be: You can call it liberalism. You can call it empowerment. You can call it freedom. You can call it responsibility” (p. 1 l. 18). By repeating the same words and then following them by a positive word, David Cameron accentuates the advantages of the Big Society. The fact that he repeats the words “You can call it” could also refer to the principle that the Big Society is built on, which is giving the individual more responsibility and freedom.

  1. Discussion

The second text presents Rebecca Nicholson’s view on the class problem and her opinion on which role the government should play when overcoming social differences. Rebecca Nicholson explains how affluence, opportunities and privilege are almost entirely hereditary which makes it difficult for the people in the lower class. The few ones who climb the social ladder will meet more obstacles afterwards since “Social divisions are deeply entrenched in British society” (p. 1 l. 19). Even though funds as the Sutton Trust fund exist, “the class system is not built for people to question, or bend” (p. 2 l. 19). Rebecca Nicholson writes about her experience with having to learn all kinds of rules and new ways of being, making her a permanent outside because she didn’t quite fit in anywhere. Rebecca Nicholson believes that the government should do a lot more to help the less privileged ones. She does not think that having a talent should be a necessity to achieve success because of the unjustness resulting in people not having equal possibilities: “But letting the odd person pull themselves up by their “talents” – bootstraps, by any other name – is not only insufficient and inadequate, it’s insulting to those who, for whatever reason, simply don’t have access to the opportunities.” (p. 2 l. 27-30) Rebecca Nicholson talks about the opportunities that are simply missing for the students who are not as prosperous as others. She does not believe that it is sufficient to let the unfortunate ones up to themselves.



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