The conceptual framework of “sponsored” versus “contest” mobility was introduced in 1960 by American sociologist Ralph H. Turner to analyze normative patterns of upward mobility in different societies. He sought to illuminate how a society allocates elite status to its ambitious members and to specify the role of the school system in this process. Turner suggested that recruits are either selected by the established elite, in which case status is given to them by their sponsors, or the aspirants take part in an open contest, in which case status is earned by their own efforts. Turner used the conceptual dichotomy to explain the differences between American and British secondary systems, the latter of which was at that time not yet a comprehensive system. This theory ...

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