Global pressures, household social reproduction strategies and compound inequality

Stephen Farrall, Emily Gray, Alex Nunn, Daniela Tepe-Belfrage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


We contribute to the literature on social reproduction and the International Political Economy of the everyday. We focus on how the global economy rests on domestic foundations not just including state institutions but micro-social structures such as households and families. We employ data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study exploring the way different types of household (using proxies for social class) parent - as one aspect of their social reproduction strategies. We argue that under conditions of increased global competitiveness, the UK state has successfully embedded a politics of competitiveness at the household scale. Households of all types are aspirational for their children and invest parental time in helping their children with educational activities. However, parents in middle-class occupations, with higher levels of qualifications and higher income have advantageous informational, cultural and financial resources and use these in a variety of ways to support their social reproduction strategies. The result is that agential responses to competitiveness result in 'compound inequalities'. We theorise this by demonstrating variegation across different household social reproduction strategies and the violence of social reproduction, even where this is unintended. We speculate that compound inequality may be causing a breakdown in the stable reproduction of society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)713-729
Number of pages17
JournalNew political economy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Inequality
  • Middle class
  • social mobility
  • class
  • Children
  • Social institutions
  • Political economy
  • parenting
  • Social classes
  • Social reproduction
  • Cohort analysis
  • Competition
  • Competitiveness
  • Global economy
  • Household expenditure
  • Households
  • Millennium
  • Occupations
  • Parents & parenting
  • Qualifications
  • Resources
  • Social inequality
  • Social structure
  • Strategies
  • Time use


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