Phillip Brown Cardiff University Rise of Mass Higher Education/Wealth of Talent But Stagnant/Declining Social Mobility; Widening Inequalities within Occupational Groups (winner-takes-all markets); Some Evidence (US/Japan; US Occupations) 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 low middle 1998 2005 high 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 low middle 1998 2005 high 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 low middle 1998 2005 high Shift in understanding of ‘knowledge’ economy within business – McKinsey Consulting, etc. ‘It’s more important to get great talent, since the differential value created by the most talented knowledge workers is enormous’ (Ed Michaels, et al. McKinsey Consultants, 2001). ‘The post-industrial society, in its initial logic is a meritocracy. Differential status and differential income are based on technical skills and higher education.’ (Daniel Bell, The Coming of Post-Industrial Society, 1973). Employability in a Global Economy; A Meritocracy of Talent?; Conceptual Starting Point: Positional Conflict Theory; An Agenda for Research Methodological Nationalism Duality of Employability – Absolute (Skills Upgrading; Hard/Soft Currencies, etc.) Relative (How One Stands in Relation to Others. The ‘Relative’ is Now Global; It’s Now a Competition Based on Quality and Price (Global Auction). TNCs: Widening Access versus Widening World; Global League Tables ‘Recruit the Best of the Best’; Reinforced by Reputational Capital of Universities; People as Product within Knowledge Organisations. ? Ascription Meritocracy Ideology of Meritocracy Ideology of Performocracy (both based on ‘achievement’); Neo-Liberalism and the Market for Talent; Markets Reward ‘Success’ Not Fairness; Sociological Critique of Positional Consensus (Baby/Bath Water!) Positional Conflict: Exclusionary Tactics of Elites; Avoid ‘Content Free’ Reproduction; Restructuring of (Re)Production of Middle Classes in Comparative Perspective What does the ‘war for talent’ tell us about the (re)production of class and gender relations in education and employment? What does it tell us about positional competition and the middle classes from a comparative perspective? To undertake a comparative study of the social construction of ‘talent’; To investigate the relationship between ‘talent’ and ‘meritocracy’ as understood by university students and leading employers; To assess whether ‘talent’ is understood, nurtured and rewarded differently in Britain and France; To examine the relationship between education and the recruitment of elites in different national contexts; To contribute to the development of new concepts and theoretical insights required to account for the changing relationship between education, jobs and rewards in cross-national perspective. Is there evidence of an International Convergence around the War for Talent? Are those defined as ‘talented’ treated differently in terms of special schooling, career tracks, etc.? How do the proportions of those deemed to be ‘talented’ vary in different contexts? Is what you need to know to be talented the same in different countries? Is talent defined and rewarded differently in various countries? Do women need to be more ‘talented’ than men in Britain or France to have their talents recognised? Interviews with 10 leading employers (5 from each country) matched by sector (legal profession, civil service or investment banking). Interviews with 40 final year undergrads (20 from each country) from elite universities aiming for these careers. Plus, background research on the social structure of competition in Britain and France.