CERIC Anniversary Webinars: The sociology of human capital and the economics of cultural capital

Dr Meenakshi Sarkar explores a long-lasting effect of taxi driving among Pakistani men on intergenerational mobility.

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Almost one in four Pakistani men in the UK drive taxis for a living (EHRC, 2010). This figure has doubled from one in eight in 1991 and is high for British Pakistani men compared to “one in a hundred of the whole population” (HM Government, 2011). For ethnic minorities working in low-paid occupations, occupational segregation can lead to inequality (Blackwell, 2003), and has a long-lasting effect on intergenerational mobility (Corak, 2013). A largely masculine occupation, taxi driving is a rarely studied occupation, and has mostly been considered as a “marginal form of self-employment” (McEvoy and Haveez, 2009) or an “immigrant’s job” (Waterman and Kosmin, 1986). This study aims to explore to what extent taxi driving is a choice or whether there are factors that constrain the employment opportunities for the men in this ethnic group. Drawing upon Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of social reproduction, the study questions the notion of meritocracy and human capital as a rational process to argue that Occupational ‘choices’ of migrants and minorities are often constrained and shaped by their (in)ability to convert their cultural, social and academic resources as forms of capitals (CHESS) which are further influenced by the intersectionality of class, religious affiliation, gender and ethnicity.


Dr Meenakshi Sarkar is a Teaching Fellow in Work, Employment Relations and HRM. Her research interests span across occupational segregation and employment challenges for ethnic minorities. Her doctoral research focussed on the employment challenges faced by British Pakistani men and why a quarter of them drive taxis for a living, whilst her future research focus is planned to be an investigation of the effectiveness of active labour market policies aimed at ethnic minorities.

This webinar will be recorded.