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Social Mobility

Social Mobility

Individuals are recognized in society through the statuses they occupy and the roles they enact. The society as well as individuals is dynamic. Men are normally engaged in endless endeavor to enhance their statuses in society, move from lower position to higher position, secure superior job from an inferior one. For various reasons people of the higher status and position may be forced to come down to a lower status and position. Thus people in society continue to move up and down the status scale. This movement is called social mobility.

The study of social mobility is an important aspect of social stratification.Infact it is an inseparable aspect of social stratification system because the nature, form, range and degree of social mobility depends on the very nature of stratification system. Stratification system refers to the process of placing individuals in different layers or strata.

According to Wallace and Wallace social mobility is the movement of a person or persons from one social status to another.W.P Scott has defined sociology as the movement of an individual or group from one social class or social stratum to another.

  • Types of Mobility
  • Systems Of Mobility
  • Changes in Mobility

Types of Social Mobility

Horizontal And Vertical Social Mobility

A distinction is made between horizontal and vertical social mobility. The former refers to change of occupational position or role of an individual or a group without involving any change in its position in the social hierarchy, the latter refers essentially to changes in the position of an individual or a group along the social hierarchy. When a rural laborer comes to the city and becomes an industrial worker or a manager takes a position in another company there are no significant changes in their position in the hierarchy. Those are the examples of horizontal mobility. Horizontal mobility is a change in position without the change in statue. It indicates a change in position within the range of the same status.

It is a movement from one status to its equalivalent.But if an industrial worker becomes a businessman or lawyer he has radically changed his position in the stratification system. This is an example of vertical mobility. Vertical mobility refers to a movement of an individual or people or groups from one status to another. It involves change within the lifetime of an individual to a higher or lower status than the person had to begin with.

Forms Of Vertical Social Mobility

The vertical mobility can take place in two ways - individuals and groups may improve their position in the hierarchy by moving upwards or their position might worsen and they may fall down the hierarchy. When individuals get into seats of political position; acquire money and exert influence over others because of their new status they are said to have achieved individual mobility. Like individuals even groups also attain high social mobility. When a dalit from a village becomes an important official it is a case of upward mobility. On the other hand an aristocrat or a member of an upper class may be dispossessed of his wealth and he is forced to enter a manual occupation. This is an example of downward mobility.

Inter-Generational Social Mobility

Time factor is an important element in social mobility. On the basis of the time factor involved in social mobility there is another type of inter-generational mobility. It is a change in status from that which a child began within the parents, household to that of the child upon reaching adulthood. It refers to a change in the status of family members from one generation to the next. For example a farmer's son becoming an officer. It is important because the amount of this mobility in a society tells us to what extent inequalities are passed on from one generation to the next. If there is very little inter-generational mobility .inequality is clearly deeply built into the society for people' life chances are being determined at the moment of birth. When there is a mobility people are clearly able to achieve new statuses through their own efforts, regardless of the circumstances of their birth.

Intra-Generational Mobility

Mobility taking place in personal terms within the lifespan of the same person is called intra-generational mobility. It refers to the advancement in one's social level during the course of one's lifetime. It may also be understood as a change in social status which occurs within a person's adult career. For example a person working as a supervisor in a factory becoming its assistant manager after getting promotion.

Structural mobility

Structural mobility is a kind of vertical mobility. Structural mobility refers to mobility which is brought about by changes in stratification hierarchy itself. It is a vertical movement of a specific group, class or occupation relative to others in the stratification system. It is a type of forced mobility for it takes place because of the structural changes and not because of individual attempts. For example historical circumstances or labor market changes may lead to the rise of decline of an occupational group within the social hierarchy. An influx of immigrants may also alter class alignments -especially if the new arrivals are disproportionately highly skilled or unskilled.

Systems of Social Mobility

Open And Closed Systems Of Mobility

A closed system of mobility is that where norms prescribe mobility. Thus the closed system emphasizes the associative character of the hierarchy. It justifies the inequality in the distribution of means of production status symbols and power positions and discourages any attempt to change them. Any attempt to bring about changes in such a system or to promote mobility is permanently suppressed. In such a system individuals are assigned their place in the social structure on the basis of ascriptive criteria like age, birth, sex.Considerations of functional suitability or ideological notions of equality of opportunity are irrelevant in deciding the positions of individuals to different statuses. However no system in reality is perfectly close. Even in the most rigid systems of stratification limited degree of mobility exists. Traditional caste system in India is an example of closed system.

In the open system the norms prescribed and encourage mobility. There are independent principles of ranking like status, class and power. In and open system individuals are assigned to different positions in the social structure on the basis of their merit or achievement. Open systems mobility is generally characterized with occupational diversity, a flexible hierarchy, differentiated social structure and rapidity of change. In such systems the hold of ascription based corporate groups like caste, kinship or extended family etc declines. The dominant values in such a system emphasize on equality and freedom of the individual and on change and innovation. If you have an interest in furthering your knowledge about sociology consider getting a a degree from an online college. it's never to late go go back and get the education you need from a GED to an online MBA the opportunities to learn more are endless.

City and village: Continuity and change in social mobility

More striking than new opportunities for group mobility within the traditional status hierarchy has been the appearance in recent decades of new status hierarchies-new arenas for status competition. They have emerged from the impact of urbanization and westernization but are not independent of the traditional social organization in which they are based.

Urbanism is nothing new in India but rapid urbanization is new. The emergency of industrial employment, of easy communication over long distances, of increasingly efficient distribution of goods and services and of more effective centralized administration has made urban living a more accessible alternative to more people in India than ever before.

Urban life affords a measure of independence from the ties and constraints of membership in rural based social groups by granting a degree of individual anonymity and mobility quite unattainable in rural communities.Caste, religion, ritual, tradition and the social controls implicit therein are not as rigid or pervasive in the city. People are increasingly able to seek status and other rewards on an individual or small family basis largely independent of caste or the other larger social entities of which they are also a part. They do this primarily by going to the city although the values of the city also extend into the country-side and have loosened the hold of tradition even there.

To a great extent urban Indians can achieve status as a result of behaviors and attributes rather than simply as a result of birth. According to Harold Gould industrialization brought about the transfer of specialized occupations of all kinds from the context of the kin groups to factories organized on bureaucratic principles. This meant that occupational role and role occupant would be in principle separated and that the preponderant criteria for determining occupations would be performance qualities and that economic rewards and social mobility would constitute the principle standards for evaluating the worth or the status of any given role.

Traditional status -caste status does not disappear in the city. It remains important in the most private contexts; the family and neighborhood. Some neighborhoods essentially reproduce the village setting in personnel as well as social structure; others do not.

A very large proportion of city dwellers are in close touch with their native villages. Tradition and ascription are important in the city in those relationships upon which the day to day functioning and future composition of the family depends of which the epitome is marriage. In the city primary relationships occupy a diminishing proportion of most people's time, attention and energies. Much of the individual's interaction takes place on the basis of particular or even fragmented roles. He can often behave in a way consistent with the requirements of the situation without reference to his group membership. He is even able to pass if that is his desire by learning the superficial symbols of the status such as that of white collar worker, student, middle class householder or professional. In these statuses skill in handling the language, in pursuing the occupation or success in acquiring money or an appropriate life style may be socially recognized and rewarded irrespective of caste and family.

Contemporary urban life has available more means to mobility and suggests to those who seek it a greater likelihood of success that the highly structured closely controlled traditional village setting. Mobility occurs in all settings. Some low status groups have been victims of technological displacement with the result that their economic, political and social statuses have declined. They drift either into the status of rural landless laborers or into unskilled urban employment, both of which are overpopulated and underpaid. The result is underemployment, unemployment, poverty and lack of opportunity for improvement. For examples: water carriers comprise a caste whose members have been displaced in many parts of Northern India with the advent of handpumps.In some instances new occupations have been created and with them opportunities for enhancement of economic and social status thus allowing certain mobility.
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