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Morton offers a philosophical examination of the ethical costs of upward mobility—the sacrifices to relationships with family and friends, connection to their community, and sense of identity that strivers have to contend with in order to gain educational and career opportunities that will propel them into the middle-class.

Morton, Jennifer

Moving Up without Losing Your Way

The Ethical Costs of Upward Mobility


    44,95 € / $50.75 / £40.00*

    eBook (PDF)
    Publication Date:
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    September 2019
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    Aims and Scope

    The ethical and emotional tolls paid by disadvantaged college students seeking upward mobility and what educators can do to help these students flourish

    Upward mobility through the path of higher education has been an article of faith for generations of working-class, low-income, and immigrant college students. While we know the road usually entails financial sacrifices and hard work, very little attention has been paid to the deep personal compromises such students have to make as they enter worlds vastly different from their own. Measuring the true cost of higher education for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, Moving Up without Losing Your Way looks at the ethical dilemmas of upward mobility—the broken ties with family and friends, the severed connections with former communities, and the loss of identity—faced by students as they strive to earn a successful place in society.

    Drawing on philosophy, social science, personal stories, and interviews, Jennifer Morton reframes the college experience, factoring in not just educational and career opportunities but also essential relationships with family, friends, and community. Finding that student strivers tend to give up the latter for the former, negating their sense of self, Morton seeks to reverse this course. Morton urges educators to empower students with a new narrative of upward mobility—one that honestly situates ethical costs in historical, social, and economic contexts and that allows students to make informed decisions for themselves.

    A powerful work with practical implications, Moving Up without Losing Your Way paves a hopeful path so that students might achieve social mobility while retaining their best selves.


    200 pages
    General/trade;Professional and scholarly;College/higher education;

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    Jennifer M. Morton is associate professor of philosophy at the City College of New York and the Graduate Center, CUNY and senior fellow at the Center for Ethics and Education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.


    "Moving Up without Losing Your Way is a subtle philosophical exploration of the underappreciated costs involved in social mobility. This book is simultaneously a major contribution to the philosophical literature about higher education and essential reading for all college leaders, administrators, and teachers."—Harry Brighouse, coauthor of Educational Goods

    "Moving Up without Losing Your Way compellingly contends that conventional discourse about the socioeconomic mobility of college students from working-class, low-income, and first-generation backgrounds is fundamentally flawed. Showing how the process of mobility can be detrimental to students, this immensely readable book makes important arguments about the nature of power and structure in American society."—Elizabeth M. Lee, author of Class and Campus Life

    "What are the ethical costs borne by first-generation students and their families and communities? Moving Up without Losing Your Way investigates the burden that first-generation, low-income, and immigrant students carry when they strive to achieve upward mobility through attending college. This book reshapes the conversation about upward mobility, shifting our focus from the opportunities embedded in the current social structure to the price paid by those aiming to climb it."—Sigal Ben-Porath, University of Pennsylvania

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