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Very Different, But Much the SameThe Evolution of English Society Since 1714$
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W. G. Runciman

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198712428

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198712428.001.0001

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Ideology and the Power of Prestige

Ideology and the Power of Prestige

(p.69) 3 Ideology and the Power of Prestige
Very Different, But Much the Same

W. G. Runciman

Oxford University Press

The cultural changes since his day, by which Defoe would be astonished, include mass literacy, the decline of Christian belief, the relaxation of sexual mores, and perhaps most of all the undermining of self-confirming stereotypes about the characters and capacities of women. But distinctive status groups linked largely but not exclusively to occupational roles were reproduced in a similar hierarchy of prestige, educational reform did not bring about ‘parity of esteem’ between educational institutions, and professionalization (and therewith ‘credentialism’) accentuated rather than moderated the differences between working-class ‘jobs’ and middle-class ‘careers’. The enfranchisement of women did not lead to the formation of a women’s party as such and their entry into the labour market paralleled their social standing. The narrowing of social distance on which commentators remarked did not subvert the established order of social prestige but took place within it.

Keywords:   religion, education, social prestige, professions, credentialism, stereotypes, immigrants, feminism, status groups

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