mobility_23_0049 FESTIVAL themes_mint_1920x83033


Smashing the Class Ceiling | LSE Festival

Hosted by LSE Festival: People and Change

In-person and online public event (Sheikh Zayed Theatre, Cheng Kin Ku Building, formerly New Academic Building)


Professor Lee Elliot Major

Professor Lee Elliot Major

Professor Sam Friedman

Professor Sam Friedman


Professor Stephen Machin

Professor Stephen Machin

Lessons in how to improve social mobility: what we can do, how we can do it and why it’s not being done already. 

A society with high social mobility creates opportunities for people from all backgrounds to excel. The UK is becoming less socially mobile, meaning that, compared to previous generations, the chances of young people starting out today are more tightly tied to their background.  

Leading experts in this field discuss not only what can be done to level the playing field - but why it’s not being done already and what is needed to turn ideas into action.  

Meet our speakers and chair

Lee Elliot Major (@Lem_Exeter) is Professor of Social Mobility at the University of Exeter, Britain's first professor in the field. His work is dedicated to improving the prospects of disadvantaged young people. 

Sam Friedman (@SamFriedmanSoc) is a sociologist of class and inequality, and my research focuses in particular on the cultural dimensions of contemporary class division and Professor of Sociology at LSE. He is currently writing a book with Aaron Reeves (under contract with Harvard University Press) exploring how the British elite has changed over the last 120 years. His previous book, The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged,  researched social mobility into Britain’s higher professional and managerial occupations. 

Stephen Machin (@s_machin_) is a British economist and Professor of Economics at LSE. He is currently director of the Centre for Economic Performance and is a fellow of the British Academy, the Society of Labor Economists and the European Economic Association. 

Update 15 June, 2pm: Due to unforeseen circumstances, Sophie Pender who was due to participate in this panel, is no longer able to join the event. 

More about this event

This event is part of the LSE Festival: People and Change running from Monday 12 to Saturday 17 June 2023, with a series of events exploring how change affects people and how people effect change. Booking for all Festival events will open on Monday 15 May. 

The Centre for Economic Performance (@CEP_LSE) carries out policy-focused research on the causes of economic growth and effective ways to create a fair, inclusive and sustainable society.

The Department of Sociology (@LSEsociology) seek to produce sociology that is public-facing, fully engaged with London as a global city, and with major contemporary debates in the intersection between economy, politics and society – with issues such as financialisation, inequality, migration, urban ecology, and climate change.

Twitter hashtags for this event: #LSEFestival  

Podcast and video

A podcast of this event is available to download from Smashing the Class Ceiling.

A video of this event is available to watch at Smashing the Class Ceiling.

Podcasts and videos of many LSE events can be found at the LSE Public Lectures and Events: podcasts and videos channel.

LSE Blogs

Many speakers at LSE events also write for LSE Blogs, which present research and critical commentary accessibly for a public audience. Follow British Politics and Policy, the Business Review, the Impact BlogEuropean Politics and Policy and the LSE Review of Books to learn more about the debates our events series present.

Live captions

Automated live captions will be available at this webinar. Please note that this feature uses Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technology, or machine generated transcription, and is not 100% accurate.


Photographs taken on behalf of LSE are often used on our social media accounts, website and publications. At events, photographs could include broad shots of the audience and lecture theatre, of speakers during the talk, and of audience members as they participate in the Q&A.

If you are photographed participating in an event Q&A but would not like your photograph to be stored for future use, please contact


We aim to make all LSE events available as a podcast subject to receiving permission from the speaker/s to do this, and subject to no technical problems with the recording of the event. Podcasts are normally available 1-2 working days after the event. Podcasts and videos of past events can be found online.

Social Media

Follow LSE public events on Twitter for notification on the availability of an event podcast, the posting of transcripts and videos, the announcement of new events and other important event updates. Event updates and other information about what’s happening at LSE can be found on the LSE's Facebook page and for live photos from events and around campus, follow us on Instagram. For live webcasts and archive video of lectures, follow us on YouTube.


If you are planning to attend this event and would like details on how to get here and what time to arrive, as well as on accessibility and special requirements, please refer to LSE Events FAQ.  LSE aims to ensure that people have equal access to these public events, but please contact the events organiser as far as possible in advance if you have any access requirements so that arrangements, where possible, can be made. If the event is ticketed, please ensure you get in touch in advance of the ticket release date. Access Guides to all our venues can be viewed online.

WIFI Access

LSE has now introduced wireless for guests and visitors in association with 'The Cloud', also in use at many other locations across the UK. If you are on campus visiting for the day or attending a conference or event, you can connect your device to wireless. See more information and create an account at Join the Cloud.
Visitors from other participating institutions are encouraged to use eduroam. If you are having trouble connecting to eduroam, please contact your home institution for assistance.
The Cloud is only intended for guest and visitor access to wifi. Existing LSE staff and students are encouraged to use eduroam instead.

From time to time there are changes to event details so we strongly recommend that if you plan to attend this event you check back on this listing on the day of the event.