Social Mobility

Topics: Social class, Sociology, Social stratification Pages: 10 (1120 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Mobility is the characteristic of every social system.

Social mobility is the

movement of individuals, families and groups from one

social position to

another. It may be studied in terms of redistribution

of resources and power

among the different social strata and its effect on

the people involved. In the

status societies the social status of the person is

determined from his work.

Social mobility occurs whenever people move across

social class boundaries, from

one ⌠occupational level to another. The study of

Social Mobility is important

for a number of reasons: -

1. It matters to people to get on in life,

2. We can study people's life histories,

3. We can see changes in the class system,

4. The more mobile a society is may show it to be more

open and fairer,

5. Mobility affects the way classes are formed, their

size and shape.

A common sense notion regarding class in the U.S can

be represented as a few

rich people on the top, few poor people at the bottom,

and the middle class

majority in the center. Mostly everybody has a

comfortable standard of living.

If we divide the U.S. population in 5 equal

proportions and their corresponding

share of the nation¡¯s income we get the following:

¨iTop 20% of the population receives 49.1% of

the total income

¨iSecond top 20% of the population receives

24.3% of the total income

¨iMiddle 20% of the population receives 15% of

the total income

¨iSecond bottom 20% of the population receives

8.9% of the total income

¨iBottom 20% of the population receives 3.6% of

the total income

The top 20% of the population have a disproportionate

share of the income

compared to their share in the population. Looking at

the standards of living by

consumption the ration between the top 20% and the

bottom 20% is 9:1. This

comparison illustrates great inequality in US society.

It is often said that

high levels of inequality is necessary because it

stimulates competition, it

creates incentives for excellence, and provides

rewards for performance. The

conflict perspective, on the other hand, argues that

people at the bottom won't

take it and they will work towards changing the status

quo. For instance, poor

people may use their vote to elect officials who will

represent their interests.

Conflict theorists argue that high levels of

inequality are not useful because

society is then unstable. Using cross-national data,

we find that core countries

tend to have high levels of inequality. Those core

countries with a higher

degree of government involvement tend to have lower

levels of inequality.

There are two kinds of social mobility: individual

mobility and intergenerational mobility.

Intergenerational mobility which compares parents¡¯

levels to that of their

children and Individual mobility plots career shifts

within a person¡¯s lifetime

Individual mobility

Some facts

¨iMen between the ages of 25 and 54 who changed

from a full time job to another

full time job between the years of 1990 to 1992

experienced an earning average

decline of 20%. Weekly income decreased from $529 to

$423. This illustrates

downward mobility.

¨iThe average amount of time seeking employment

or unemployed increased from 1.8 months to 2.4 months.

¨i2.5 million men and 2 million women lost

health insurance due to unemployment.

¨iMedicare coverage of households increased from

10% to 12%.

¨iRate of moonlighting has increased

These statistics show a short-term trend of stagnation

in social mobility. The

cost of living has increased steadily while income has

remained stable. People

are working more and longer to maintain their level of


Intergenerational Mobility.

The following data is from the 1970s on white male...
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