Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Social Stratification of Education by Ethnic Minority Groups over Generations in the UK

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Abstract:  A large body of research has been conducted both on the social stratification of education at the general level and on the educational attainments of ethnic minority groups in the UK. The former has established the increasing fluidity in the class–education association, without paying much attention to ethnicity, whilst the latter has shown reinvigorated aspirations by the second generation without fine-grained analyses. This paper adds to this literature by examining the relationship between family class, ethno-generational status and educational attainment for various 1st, 1.5, 2nd, 2.5, 3rd and 4th generations in contemporary UK society. Using data from Understanding Society, we study the educational attainment of different ethno-generational groups. Our analysis shows high educational selectivity among the earlier generations, a disruptive process for the 1.5 generation, high second-generation achievement, and a ‘convergence toward the mean’ for later generations. Parental class generally operates in a similar way for the ethno-generational groups and for the majority population, yet some minority ethnic groups of salariat origins do not benefit from parental advantages as easily. An ‘elite, middle and lower’ structure manifests itself in the intergenerational transmission of advantage in educational attainment. This paper thus reveals new features of class-ethno relations hitherto unavailable in UK research.

Keywords:  class; educational attainment; ethnicity; minorities; multiple-generation groups; social stratification; UK



© Laurence Lessard-Phillips, Yaojun Li. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.