In this talk, the speaker draws on 120 years of biographical data (N = 120,764) contained within the Who’s Who
— a unique catalogue of the British elite — to explore the changing
relationship between elite schools and elite recruitment.
suggests that the propulsive power of Britain’s private schools has
diminished significantly over time. This is driven, in part, by the wane
of military and religious elites, and the rise of women in the labor
force. However, the most dramatic declines followed key educational
reforms that increased access to the credentials needed to access elite
trajectories, while also standardizing and differentiating them.
Notwithstanding these changes, public schools remain extraordinarily
powerful channels of elite formation. Even today, the alumni of the nine
Clarendon schools are 94 times more likely to reach the British elite
than are those, who attended any other school. Alumni of elite schools
also retain a striking capacity to enter the elite even without passing
through other prestigious institutions, such as Oxford University and Cambridge University, or
private members clubs.
The speaker's research not only points to the
dogged persistence of the “old boy,” but also underlines the theoretical
importance of reviving and refining the study of elite recruitment.
Worldwide Week at Harvard showcases the remarkable breadth of Harvard’s global engagement. During Worldwide Week, Harvard Schools, research centers, departments, and student organizations will host academic and cultural events with global or international themes. See the Worldwide Week schedule for a listing of all events at Harvard during that week.