Most people agree that every child deserves an equal chance to flourish. Most also value family life. Yet the family plays a surprisingly crucial part in maintaining inequality from one generation to the next. The children of disadvantaged parents typically achieve less and die younger. Early in their school careers, even the most able among them fall behind their better-off peers. They are then 8 times less likely to attend a top university. In the UK, as in other rich countries, the ‘playing-field’ is anything but level.
This book explores how seemingly mundane aspects of family life – from the right to inherit income, to the reading of bedtime stories – raise fundamental questions of social justice. Taking fairness seriously, it argues, means rethinking what equality of opportunity means.
"A must for everyone interested in making the UK a fair, just and rewarding society... Gideon Calder asks difficult questions and offers thoughtful and thought-provoking ideas." Kate Pickett, University of York.
"Reveals the role of families in reproducing inequalities and shows what’s unjust about this - a brilliant critique of popular thinking about social mobility and meritocracy." Andrew Sayer, Lancaster University
"Calder combines penetrative data-analysis with philosophical insights to myth-bust and shed much needed light on families, inequalities, and social mobility." Steve Smith, University of South Wales
"Calder is to be congratulated on producing a book that merits wide reading, not only by social science/social policy students...it makes a valuable contribution to the canon." - People, Place and Policy
"Thought provoking for academics, students, and any members of the public who happen to pick this book up. Placing the family at the centre of analysis allows Calder to create a refreshing and accessible insight into social mobility debates. Assessing key theories of social justice, equality, and social mobility, he is able to make clear the complex web of considerations and contradictions that rest at the heart of inequality debates in contemporary Western societies." Social Policy & Administration
Gideon Calder is Senior Lecturer in Social Sciences and Social Policy at Swansea University. The author or editor of eight books, he is co-editor of the journal Ethics and Social Welfare, and of the forthcoming Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Childhood and Children.
The family and social justice
Social mobility and class fate
Unpacking equality of opportunity
Towards real equality of life chances?