The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
This doctoral dissertation examines the experience of long-range upward mobility in contemporary Chile. Internationally well-known for the implementation of pioneering and radical neoliberal reforms, Chile has both high rates of occupational mobility and a strong trend towards social closure at the top. Based on an extensive qualitative study, this research focuses on those who best represent the embodiment of the meritocratic ideal across Western nations: the long-range upwardly mobile coming from disadvantaged backgrounds and reaching high-status occupations after attending elite universities. Endorsing an increasing sociological interest in the study of the elites, this thesis argues for the need to move from the conventional occupational-based approach towards a cultural and multigenerational perspective on social mobility. In particular, it acknowledges the crucial significance of concepts such as cultural capital and cultural repertoires used in tandem with three different sources of multigenerational transmission underpinning upward mobility: families, schools, and high-status occupations. The findings reveal a double-faced experience associated with a long-range upward trajectory in the Chilean context: while one of these faces indicates the lingering class dislocation the long-range upwardly mobile experience regarding both their ties of origin and destination, the other side emphasises the constant search to re-find belonging and meaning to their displaced sense of self in the social space. The variability fashioning this double-faced experience is largely dependent on a number of intervening or mediating factors underpinning their upward trajectories: geographical origin, the cultural repertoires tied to their backgrounds of origin, gender, school trajectory, and the specific occupational settings sustaining their professional lives. Drawing on these findings, this doctoral dissertation contributes to reorient research on mobility, both in the Global South and North, by promoting greater cross-fertilisation between the contributions emerging from cultural sociology with a broad multi-generational view of inequality.
Como citar: Fercovic-Cerda, Malik (2021) Between success and dislocation: the experience of long-range upward mobility in contemporary Chile. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)