Understanding social exclusion in elite professional service firms: field level dynamics and the 'professional project

Ashley, L. & Empson, L. (2016). Understanding social exclusion in elite professional service firms: field level dynamics and the 'professional project. Work, Employment & Society, 31(2), pp. 211-229. doi: 10.1177/0950017015621480

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Abstract

This article explores social exclusion in elite professional service firms (PSFs) through a qualitative study of six legal, accounting, investment banking and consulting firms. Employing a Bourdieusian perspective we find that all six firms privilege candidates with the same narrow forms of cultural capital, while acknowledging that this contradicts their professed commitment to social inclusion and recruiting the best ‘talent’. We find that this behaviour is enshrined within the habitus of elite firms. We argue that it represents an organizational strategy generated by a compulsion to achieve legitimacy in a specific field of London-based elite PSFs. We identify a ‘professional project’ of sorts, but argue that this can no longer be mapped on to the interests of a discrete occupational group. As such, we contribute to studies of elite reproduction and social stratification by focusing specifically on the role of elite professional organizations in the reproduction of inequality.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright Sage 2016
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bourdieu, elite reproduction, professional service firms, social exclusion, social stratification
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Divisions: Cass Business School > Faculty of Management
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/13616

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