Social mobility via elite placements: working class graduates in elite accounting and banking firms

Ian Crawford, Zhiqi Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Little research attention has been paid to the effect of yearlong placements in elite accounting firms and investment banks on the social mobility of working class graduates. Using the framework of Bourdieu, this paper examines the link between placements and employment destinations of eight cohorts of accounting and finance graduates from a non-elite British university. We find that elite professions are most likely to recruit graduates who have already gained the "right" professional habitus through the successful completion of yearlong placements in the same elite firms in that particular field and/or with better degree averages. Social mobility of working class graduates taking an elite placement is evident after controlling for gender, age, ethnicity and degree average. The findings indicate that working class graduates need to consciously and continuously modify their class specific dispositions so that they can fully engage with higher education and elite placement experiences to achieve social mobility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)508-531
Number of pages25
JournalAccounting Education
Issue number5
Early online date30 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Bourdieu
  • educational capital
  • ethnicity
  • gender
  • habitus
  • placement
  • social class

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Education

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