Just Sociology

Exploring the Class Divide in the Senior Civil Service: Implications for Social Justice

The senior civil service plays an important role in providing policy advice and implementation to the government of a country. The proportion of senior civil servants from working-class and other low socioeconomic backgrounds has been a concern for policymakers and researchers.

This article aims to explore the complex theories surrounding the class divide in the senior civil service. It will discuss the proportion of senior civil servants from low socioeconomic backgrounds, variations in proportions according to roles, regions, and departments, barriers faced by those from lower SEBs, studied neutrality and cultural capital, the importance of class divide in senior civil service, and the impact of class divide from a social justice perspective.

Proportion of Senior Civil Servants from Low SEBs

The class divide in the senior civil service is evident in the proportion of senior civil servants from working-class and other low socioeconomic backgrounds. Research shows that the proportion of senior civil servants from low socioeconomic backgrounds is lower than the proportion of the general population from such backgrounds.

This is a concern because it implies that the senior civil service is not representative of the population it serves. While there have been some initiatives to increase the proportion of senior civil servants from low socioeconomic backgrounds, progress has been slow.

Variations in Proportion According to Role, Region and Department

The proportion of senior civil servants from low socioeconomic backgrounds varies according to roles, regions, and departments. Senior civil servants in operational roles, such as those in the police and armed forces, are more likely to be from low socioeconomic backgrounds than those in policy jobs.

Similarly, senior civil servants in the Treasury and the Department for Work and Pensions are more likely to be from low socioeconomic backgrounds than those in other departments. There are also regional variations, with a higher proportion of senior civil servants from low socioeconomic backgrounds in the North East than in London.

Barriers faced by those from Lower SEBs

Those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds face several barriers in their career progression in the civil service. These barriers include hidden rules, career accelerators, in-house social capital, and dominant behavioural codes.

Hidden rules are the unwritten rules that govern behaviour in the civil service, which are often not apparent to those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Career accelerators such as mentoring and networks also tend to be dominated by those from higher socioeconomic backgrounds.

In-house social capital, such as knowing the right people, is also harder to acquire for those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Dominant behavioural codes, such as the need for emotional detachment and polished self-presentation, can also be difficult to emulate for those from different backgrounds.

Studied Neutrality and Cultural Capital

Studied neutrality and cultural capital are important concepts in understanding the class divide in the senior civil service. Studied neutrality refers to the need for senior civil servants to remain impartial and unbiased in their work.

This can be challenging for those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, as they may not have the same level of cultural capital as those from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. Cultural capital includes factors such as received pronunciation, emotionally detachment, understated self-presentation, in-depth knowledge, Latin, and specialisation.

Those from higher socioeconomic backgrounds tend to possess more cultural capital, which can make it easier for them to navigate the senior civil service.

Perception of Senior Civil Servants

Senior civil servants are often perceived as neutral advisors who are there to provide objective policy advice to the government. However, the reality is more complex than this.

Senior civil servants are also influenced by their own backgrounds, experiences, and cultural capital, which can influence their policy advice and decision-making.

Impact of Class Divide from a Social Justice Perspective

The class divide in the senior civil service has important implications from a social justice perspective. The lack of diversity in the senior civil service means that decision-making is dominated by those from higher socioeconomic backgrounds, who may not represent the views and experiences of the wider population.

This can create a status quo that is resistant to change and limits social mobility for those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Increasing the proportion of senior civil servants from lower socioeconomic backgrounds can lead to more inclusive policy-making that better reflects the needs of the population.

Conclusion:

The class divide in the senior civil service is a complex issue that has important implications for social justice and representativeness. The proportion of senior civil servants from low socioeconomic backgrounds is lower than that of the general population, and there are variations according to roles, regions, and departments.

Those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds face several barriers to career progression, including hidden rules, career accelerators, in-house social capital, and dominant behavioural codes. Studied neutrality and cultural capital are important concepts that contribute to the class divide in the senior civil service.

Increasing the proportion of senior civil servants from lower socioeconomic backgrounds can lead to more inclusive policy-making and better representativeness of the population. In conclusion, the complex theories surrounding the class divide in the senior civil service have far-reaching implications for social justice and representativeness.

The proportion of senior civil servants from low socioeconomic backgrounds is lower than that of the general population, and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds face several barriers to career progression. However, increasing the proportion of senior civil servants from lower socioeconomic backgrounds can lead to more inclusive policy-making and better reflect the needs of the population.

It is essential to continue to address these issues to ensure a more diverse and representative senior civil service.

FAQs:

1.

Why is the class divide in the senior civil service important? The class divide in senior civil service is important as it has implications for social justice and representativeness.

2. What are the barriers faced by those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds?

Those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds face several barriers to career progression in the civil service, including hidden rules, career accelerators, in-house social capital, and dominant behavioural codes. 3.

What is studied neutrality? Studied neutrality refers to the need for senior civil servants to remain impartial and unbiased in their work.

4. What is cultural capital?

Cultural capital includes factors such as received pronunciation, emotionally detachment, understated self-presentation, in-depth knowledge, Latin, and specialisation. 5.

Why is increasing the proportion of senior civil servants from lower socioeconomic backgrounds important? Increasing the proportion of senior civil servants from lower socioeconomic backgrounds can lead to more inclusive policy-making and better reflect the needs of the population.

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