Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP6

PROFIT — Result In Brief

Project ID: 506245
Funded under: FP6-CITIZENS
Country: Poland

Sweeping away the barriers to opportunity

Opportunity and equality of opportunity in society are fraught with constraints. Surveys across Europe have shed light on the nature of factors that aggravate social mobility and interfere with grasping those life chances.
Sweeping away the barriers to opportunity
Opportunity and equality of opportunity in society are fraught with constraints. Surveys across Europe have shed light on the nature of factors that aggravate social mobility and interfere with grasping those life chances.

Intergenerational transmission of inequalities poses a challenge for society when implementing objectives for sustainable development and improved quality of life. The EU-funded Profit project aimed to address the issues raised in options for the development of a knowledge-based society, particularly in the realm of intergenerational inheritance of inequalities (II of Is).

Influences from family of origin, community and society all have a bearing on the social mobility of an individual. Social status and efforts of the family are the main factors in opportunities for the younger generation using economic, cultural and social resources. However, society and community modify transmission. In this context, policies in the areas of education, employment and social welfare influence extent of opportunity and mode of transmission.

Profit set out to identify policies and practices, mainly at local level, which can help to facilitate social mobility mechanisms. Researchers selected a medium-sized town in each country and carried out field work on the lives of young adults, 25–29 year olds.

Project researchers designed surveys to present the whole picture on social mobility and its constraints. Interviews were held with politicians, both at government and local level, social workers, teachers and priests: therefore incorporating the whole framework of influence on opportunity inheritance and social mobility. Special attention was devoted to educational, labour market and welfare policies. Gender differences were incorporated at all levels.

A review of literature on reproduction of inequality revealed that very little research has been committed to the subject in the past. There is therefore a lack of knowledge concerning how policymakers and social service managers perceive the transmission of opportunity, and how to facilitate the process and remove barriers.

Interestingly, Profit researchers used the 'hard' approach where there are clear boundaries on which to build their research strategy. In parallel, a 'soft' framework is constructed by actors. This approach was used to formulate detailed questions on what local platforms can be used to combat II of Is and how good practice can be exported to other communities.

Profit recognised that there is a strong need for national, regional and local collaboration to secure Europe's continuing social and economic cohesion. The influence of EU policies cannot be underestimated as there is an overall policy to combat poverty and social exclusion. A pertinent example is support for child mainstreaming in education, an important element in the social agenda

Related information

Keywords

Intergenerational transmission of inequalities, social mobility, gender difference, social and economic cohesion
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