social mobility n.
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Social Mobility

Social Mobility

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Social Mobility

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  1. Social Mobility

  2. What is Social Mobility • Social mobility is defined as movement from one class/status position to another • There are 2 types: Intra- generational – movement within one generation e.g. a person moves from one social class to another in the course of their life time Inter generational – movement between generations e.g. a person’s father was a Liverpool docker and he is a teacher

  3. Types of Status • Sociologists talk of two types of status Ascribed status is something you can’t change. It is inherited by virtue of class, gender, ethnic group. Achieved Status is earned by your individual effort. In a meritocracy status is supposed to be achieved. Meritocratic societies should show high degrees of social mobility

  4. Problems of measuring social mobility • 1. Using occupation can be a problem e.g. with the RG classification social class is determined by male head of household – often still used despite being out of date because of the need to compare studies over time • 2. Mobility studies focus on those in work and therefore ignore the very rich and the very poor

  5. Social Mobility Studies There are 3 main social mobility studies you need to know about • The Oxford (Nuffield) Mobility Study (OMS) 1972 • The Scottish Mobility Study (SMS) 1987 • The Essex University Mobility Study 1988

  6. The Oxford (Nuffield) Mobility Study (OMS) 1972 Used the Hope Goldthorpe scale to measure social class Led by Goldthorpe found high rates of absolute mobility. (the total numbers going upwards). Relative mobility chances remained unchanged – those born higher up the social scale had better chances of achieving higher class positions

  7. Why Had Absolute Mobility Increased? • Economic change – change in occupational structure – growth of service sector with better pay and better life chances throughout the 60’s and 70’s whilst traditional working class jobs had declined • Greater professional opportunities with the expansion of state education, health and welfare • Free secondary education since the Butler Act 1944 and made more working class people more socially mobile

  8. The Scottish Mobility Study SMS concluded that opportunities for social mobility were influenced by age and region Social mobility more likely to occur in SE England amongst young people. The North and Scotland did not enjoy this. SMS detected the suggested we were moving towards a middle class SE of opportunity with the underclass being located in the north and Scotland

  9. The Essex University Mobility Study • EUMS by Marshall largely confirmed the trends identified by the OMS – absolute mobility improving, relative mobility unchanging • Marshall also pointed out that absolute mobility was slowing down and that the UK was still a long way away from being truly meritocratic

  10. Theories of Social Mobility • There are three broad theories you need to know about • Intelligence Theory (New Right) • Neo-Marxist theory • Rational Action Theory

  11. Functionalism and the New Right • Peter Saunders claims the UK is a meritocratic society with lots of opportunities for social mobility. He says that the inequality that we see is the result of differences in effort and intelligence “Class destinations reflect individual merit much more than class background”

  12. Neo Marxist Theory • Social Mobility is a myth – class society is reproduced and we stay in either the bourgeoisie or the proletariat • Growth of service sector work isn’t upward mobility – service jobs just as exploitative and repetitive as factory work • Education reform has disproportionately benefitted the middle class

  13. Rational Action Theory (Weberian) • Goldthorpe argues that people are ‘rational actors’ who calculate the relative costs and benefits of social mobility. Rates of absolute and relative mobility can be explained by this • E.g. a working class family may see the achievement of a service sector job for their children as success whereas a middle class family will view it as a failure