Halsey, A. H.
Halsey, A. H.(1923-) British sociologist and Professor of Social and Administrative Studies at Oxford University who has published extensively on SOCIAL STRATIFICATION, SOCIAL MOBILITY and the SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION. The general thrust of his work is best expressed in Change in British Society (1978), a summary of his Reith Lectures in the same year. In that book, he is concerned with the extent to which the fundamental values of liberty fraternity and equality can be realized in any society, and especially an advanced industrial one. He contrasts Weberian-liberal and Marxist explanations of SOCIAL CHANGE and argues that not all inequality can be accounted for as a consequence of CLASS. Rather, as did WEBER, he sees notions of party and STATUS as essential to an understanding of the complexities of social change, especially the changing distribution of power and advantage through economic, social and political processes. He concludes that none of the fundamental values identified are realized in the UK, and that there are serious obstacles to them being so. He is nevertheless cautiously optimistic that in the UK the ‘rich traditions’ of DEMOCRACY and citizenship offer the sort of basis for fraternity which ultimately transcend the conflicts engendered by class and lead to a new form of social integration. It is a social philosophy which was incorporated into the politics of newly created ‘centre’ parties in Britain in the 1980s.
Halseys contribution to the study of social mobility is Origins and Destinations (1980) (with Heath and Ridge). Earlier in the sociology of education his reader Education, Economy and Society (1961) and Social Class and Educational Opportunity (1956) (both with Floud and Anderson) were highly influential books which influenced the course of sociological investigation into education for almost two decades. The concerns with equality inequality of access and educational achievement in the sociology of education owe their origins to Halsey's early influential work. The social experiments with COMPREHENSIVE EDUCATION, COMPENSATORY EDUCATION and community education, which spearheaded the drive towards the eradication of inequalities within postwar Britain, were the direct result of work inspired by Halsey and his colleagues.