‘Talent-spotting’ or ‘social magic’? : Inequality, cultural sorting and constructions of the ideal graduate in elite professions

Ingram, Nicola Anne and Allen, Kim (2019) ‘Talent-spotting’ or ‘social magic’? : Inequality, cultural sorting and constructions of the ideal graduate in elite professions. The Sociological Review, 67 (3). pp. 723-740. ISSN 0038-0261

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Graduate outcomes – including rates of employment and earnings – are marked by persistent inequalities related to social class, as well as gender, ethnicity and institution. Despite national policy agendas related to social mobility and ‘fair access to the professions’, high-status occupations are disproportionately composed of those from socially privileged backgrounds, and evidence suggests that in recent decades many professions have become less socially representative. This paper makes an original contribution to sociological studies of inequalities in graduate transitions and elite reproduction through a distinct focus on the ‘pre-hiring’ practices of graduate employers. It does this through a critical analysis of the graduate recruitment material of two popular graduate employers. We show how, despite espousing commitments to diversity and inclusion, constructions of the ‘ideal’ graduate privilege individuals who can mobilise and embody certain valued capitals. Using Bourdieusian concepts of ‘Social Magic’ and ‘Institutional Habitus’ we argue that more attention must be paid to how graduate employers’ practices constitute tacit processes of social exclusion and thus militate against the achievement of more equitable graduate outcomes and fair access to the ‘top jobs’.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
The Sociological Review
Additional Information:
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Sociological Review, 67 (3), 2019, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2019 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Sociological Review page: http://journals.sagepub.com/home/sor on SAGE Journals Online: http://journals.sagepub.com/
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? bourdieudiversityelitesemployabilitygraduateshigher educationthe professionsrecruitmentsocial classsocial magicsociology and political science ??
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Deposited On:
20 Jun 2018 10:08
Last Modified:
27 Jan 2024 00:30