The role of networks and connections in educational elites’ labour market entrance

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Tholen, G. ; Brown, P. ; Power, S. ; Allouch, A. (2013)

Despite extensive research on the role of ‘personal’ capital on labour market transitions, little is known about how those with elite credentials use networks and connection to improve their labour market chances. This becomes especially relevant within debates on the meritocratic nature of the post-industrial labour market. This article investigates how networks and connections aid educational elites to gain entrance into the upper echelons of the graduate labour market in two countries: France and England. Using interview data from final year students from two elite higher education institutions, Science Po and the University of Oxford, it is assessed whether their elite educational experiences are translated into networks and connections that aid their future labour market positions. The findings reveal that in both countries students have extensive opportunities to familiarise themselves with elite employers and create useful networks. In addition, students frequently arrange exclusive internships to seek future opportunities. We argue that these networks and connections are inherent to the elite educational experience and they could therefore help contribute to a credentialisation of the graduate labour market.
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