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Which of the following statements is true? “The chances of social mobility in the UK match those in the United States and Japan.” “British society is no more open now than it was at the time of the first world war.” “Education plays a similar role in linking class origins to class destinations in both Germany and Britain.”

The answer is that they are all true. These remarkable findings have emerged during the past 20 years from an intensive programme of research organised by the International Sociological Association. The researchers, scattered across several continents, form an academic network based on…

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