Social Mobility, the degree to which people in a society can move along the social scale
Social mobility has come to be associated with a stratified order, but it could refer to any movement between positions in society, horizontally as well as vertically, and over time. The positions are usually identified as economic or geographic. It has proved convenient to confine it to move within an occupational or class hierarchy, though some studies take into account mobility over three or more generations. A distinction between the social mobility of groups and individuals is also drawn in literature. Thus some historical studies are focused on, for example, the rise of the gentry in England in the 16th century, or of the proletariat (labouring class) in France in the 18th century.
Measurement of social mobility involves classification of groups of occupations that are thought to form classes. Crossing the boundaries of class counts as mobility. It, therefore, follows that mobility may be judged as having been achieved to a higher degree if a greater number of classes exist, and if the top and bottom of a hierarchy limits or prevent further movement.
There is, therefore, room for disagreement about the fluidity of movement among observers with different views of the class or status divisions in a society. Traditionally, the significant crossing line was seen as being the working class of manual work (blue-collar workers) and the middle classes of clerks (white-collar workers). Greater stress has since been put on other group divisions—for example, the lower-middle class, including the entrepreneur sector, which large numbers of people previously deemed “working class” have entered.
Class analysis belongs primarily to Europe, whereas other types of study, namely status attainment models, and regression analysis, were developed in the United States in the 1960s to gauge the strength of associations between parental occupation, the respondents’ education, and early jobs in determining final occupation. Comparative studies of associated, essential institutions, such as education and the family, are now conducted worldwide.
A. H. Halsey