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21Feb

Snakes and Ladders by Selina Todd review – down with the meritocracy

Is social mobility possible or even desirable in Britain today? In a timely polemic, an Oxford historian sets out her egalitarian vision

Although no book published when bookshops are closed can be said to be well-timed, the historian Selina Todd’s Snakes and Ladders arrives at a moment of particular relevance. Just when society feels as if it has ground to a halt, Todd looks at what she calls in her subtitle the Great British social mobility myth.

Of course the fact of social mobility is not a myth. As Todd shows, at various times over the past century or more there have been significant surges in dynamic social movement. In the postwar years, for example, there was a large expansion in the managerial class as industry modernised.

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