Understanding Social Change

Front Cover
Anthony F. Heath, John Ermisch, Duncan Gallie, British Academy
OUP/British Academy, Feb 17, 2005 - Political Science - 364 pages
1 Review
These essays not only describe the major changes in British society in recent years, but seek to understand and explain what is happening. One of the themes running through this book is that, while there have been rapid changes in overall levels, there have been slower changes in relativities, and this analytical distinction is absolutely fundamental to a proper understanding of contemporary society. The book also considers the wide variety of mechanisms that underlie these changes, in particular processes of social interaction. The complex and often ill-understood nature of these mechanisms may be a major reason why so much social reform has proved ineffective. The verdict on social reforms in education, gender inequalities and ethnic inequalities is rather negative; and sociologists have long been concerned about the unintended consequences of social action, and in the policy field these are frequent. By highlighting the complexities of the causal mechanisms, sociological research can make a major contribution to policy and public debate. While these papers do not claim that sociology will provide all the answers, they demonstrate that it has made real progress in understanding the social changes that Britain has experienced in recent decades.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
The Puzzling Rise in Childbearing Outside Marriage
23
Why Did Class Inequalities in Educational Attainment
55
Is Failure Inevitable? The Recent Fate of Secondary School
73
Insecurity and Stress and Autonomy
93
Motivational Deficiency
125
Some More Equal than Others
151
Explaining Ethnic Minority Disadvantage
187
The Puzzle of Retirement and Early Retirement
225
The Social Origins of Depression and the Role of Meaning
255
What are the New Religious Movements Doing in
291
Victims Rights in England and Wales at the Beginning
319
Index
351
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About the author (2005)

Anthony Heath is at Professor of Sociology, University of Oxford; Fellow of the British Academy. John Ermisch is at Professor of Sociology, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex; Fellow of the British Academy. Anthony Heath is at Professor of Sociology, University ofOxford; Fellow of the British Academy.

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