Abstract

Platt L. Researching the role of the family capital in the social mobility of migrant ethnic minorities. Presented to the Conference on Social Capital: 'Whither Social Capital? Past, Present and Future', hosted by Families and Social Capital ESRC Research Group, South Bank University, London, 7 April. 2005;

How far ethnic minorities in Britain enjoy opportunities for social mobility is an important social issue for both social equality and cohesion. We believe this question needs to be approached both quantitatively and qualitatively, and by comparing profiles of different immigrant groups. We see the family social capital of migrants as a key explanatory element.
We first draw together the work of Platt, Heath and others in reanalysing the survey evidence. This allows comparison between different migrant groups and their mobility within Britain since 1971, but little evidence on family social capital, especially in the country of origin.
In the second part of the paper we use 50 life stories of Jamaican migrants to illustrate the roles which social capital may have played in their family mobility. The types of social capital discussed include family land and enterprises, attitudes to education, religion, and family structures. We weigh the comparative importance of these different forms of social capital with this particular migrant group, and how far this could be explored comparatively with other migrant groups.