In their article ‘Class Mobility in Britain: three theses examined’, subsequently included as Chapter 2 of Goldthorpe et al., (1980, 1987), John Goldthorpe and Catriona Llewellyn presented evidence about male mobility that impugned three conventional theses about class and mobility. These were:

that of a marked degree of ‘closure’ existing at the higher levels of the class structure; that of a ‘buffer zone’ constricting the extent of mobility across the division between manual and non-manual occupations; and that of the offsetting or ‘counterbalancing’ of any rising trend in upward mobility intergenerationally by a declining trend in social mobility intragenerationally. (p. 40 of the 1987 Edition)

While these three theses were originally formulated with respect to male mobility and examined by Goldthorpe and Llewellyn using male data (from the 1972 Oxford Mobility Study), it is interesting to re-test them using female data (in this instance from the Open University People in Society Survey). The implied outcome of the examination by Goldthorpe and Llewellyn was that ‘closure’, ‘buffer-zone’ and ‘counterbalance’ are not useful models for all mobility, whether by men or women. It is for this reason that the present chapter is called ‘Three Theses Re-examined’.