‘A stunning and devastating indictment of a society scarred and defined by inequality, by one of the most charismatic and compelling voices in politics today’ Owen Jones
‘Faiza’s work is living proof that you don’t have to choose between focusing on class and battling racism, or to triangulate on hate in order to advance a political cause. She’s a testament to the power of rising with your community, and not out of it’ Ash Sarkar
'Shaheen overcame a plethora of barriers to get to Oxford and become a leading statistician. In this thought-provoking read, she uses her own unlikely story to probe how society defines your chances in life – and what we can do about it' i
At four years old, Dr Faiza Shaheen was told by her mum that one day she would study at the University of Oxford. As the daughter of a car mechanic attending state schools, the odds were low, but she worked hard and succeeded. Today, she’s a leading statistician and standing for election as a Member of Parliament.
Why do we glorify success as personal triumph like this? These narratives purposely erase the role of public services, where you are born, and luck – and they tell us that anyone can follow the same path.
Rather than making working-class mobility the norm, what Faiza accomplished makes her an exception, and it’s statistically impossible for everyone to be the exception. The inconvenient truth, as this book proves, is that social mobility is a fairy tale. Society today will not give most of us the chance of a secure and fulfilling life. That is unacceptable.
Part memoir, part polemic, Know Your Place is a personal and statistical look at how society and the economy are structured, what really defines your life chances and how our current system keeps us locked into an ugly hierarchy. But more than that, it’s a powerful call for collective fighting to reinvent things as we want them to be; it’s about breaking out, finding hope and not staying in your place. We can change things, and this is how.
Dr Faiza Shaheen is currently a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics. She has worked as an economist, policy advisor and political commentator, authoring a range of materials and publications covering the most salient social and economic debates of our times, including inequality, austerity, immigration, housing and youth unemployment. Her most recent policy report was launched by the former prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, as well as six other national leaders on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. In 2017, she was named the Observer Rising Star for Campaigning and nominated as Asian Woman of the Year at the Asian Achievers Awards.
Faiza has been selected by the Labour Party to contest her home seat of Chingford and Woodford Green against the former leader of the Conservative Party, Iain Duncan Smith, at the next general election.
‘A stunning and devastating indictment of a society scarred and defined by inequality, by one of the most charismatic and compelling voices in politics today’
– Owen Jones
‘Faiza’s work is living proof that you don’t have to choose between focusing on class and battling racism, or to triangulate on hate in order to advance a political cause. She’s a testament to the power of rising with your community, and not out of it’
– Ash Sarkar
‘A brilliant, forensic and also very personal analysis of how unfair life is in the most economically unequal country in Europe – giving power a strong dose of truth’
– Professor Danny Dorling, University of Oxford
‘In this impassioned and thoughtful book, Faiza Shaheen dismantles the myth of meritocracy and compellingly shows that we need to fundamentally challenge the unsustainable and unjust inequalities that abound in Britain today’
– Professor Mike Savage, London School of Economics
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