In Beck’s theory of individualization, individuals are increasingly forced to take responsibility for the consequences of their life choices, even as institutions at the level of society gain increased power over individual life situations, “contrary to the image of control which establishes itself in consciousness” (1992:131). Similarly, Furlong and Cartmel’s influential thesis of an ‘epistemological fallacy of late modernity’ suggests that the individualization process in effect erodes young people’s perception of structurally rooted inequality, which instead gets interpreted as being based on individual merits or shortcomings (2007:144).
Part of the analysis lends credence to the propositions, as class background has a much clearer impact at the level of educational attainment and choice than at the level of perception. Furthermore, findings indicate a near consensus emerging around the centrality of education and individual effort. Questions about the significance of coming from a poor or wealthy family, however, divide both populations. While class background is found to have a modest impact on such assessments, the more striking finding is that Norwegian youth are substantially more ready to acknowledge the importance of family affluence than their UK peers.