What is Social Mobility?

An individual's social status changes from one status to another as a result of social mobility.Shifts are either upward, downward, intergenerational, or intragenerational, and it cannot be determined if they are good or bad.

*

Origin of the Social Mobility Concept

Russian-born American sociologist and political activist Pitirim Sorokin first introduced the concept of social mobility in his book “Social and Cultural Mobility.”He states that there is no society that is completely open (such as the class system) and no society that is completely closed (like the caste system in India).

According to Sorokin, no two societies believe in the same way in terms of what movement is permitted and discouraged, and the speed of social mobility can change over time.How developed a society is determines the level of social mobility.

Through various social interactions, individuals can move from one position to another over time, thus causing a societal shift.It is more or less true that mobility serves many people as individuals are motivated by different factors in society to work toward new roles that offer them an enhanced standard of livingHuman Development Index (HDI)The Human Development Index (HDI) is an index developed by the United Nations.that measures the social and economic development of countries.Societies compete and cooperate with one another for social mobility.

Types of Social Mobility

Mobility can take many forms, and people can experience different types of mobility in different stages of their lives.Each type of mobility can occur independently of one another as well as overlap.Their differentiation is only for analysis purposes.

This occurs when a person changes their occupation but their overall social standing remains unchanged. For example, if a doctor goes from practicing medicine to teaching in a medical school, the occupation’s changed but their prestige and social standing likely remain the same. Sorokin describes horizontal mobility as a change in religious, territorial, political, or other horizontal shifts with no change in the vertical position.

It refers to a change in the social or occupational status of an individual that results in a change in their societal status.It is moving from one social stratum to the next.This movement can be ascending or descending.

Ascending involves moving from a group in a lower strata to a group in a higher one or creating a similar group with a higher social standing, rather than living along side its existing group.As an example, descending mobility occurs when a businessman incurs losses in his business and has to declare bankruptcyChapter 5: Derecognition of Social StatusBankruptcy is the legal status of a human or nonhuman entity (a firm or a government agency) that cannot repay its outstanding debts, which leads to their dropping out of society altogether.

This is when a person moves from a lower position in society to a higher one. It can also include people occupying higher positions in the same societal group. However, upward mobility, while seen as a good thing, can also come at a cost for individuals.

When a person moves upward, they often need to leave behind familiar surroundings such as family and places. They may also need to change their way of thinking and behavior. The individual will need to adapt to the new environment as a result of their upward movement and adopt different behaviors in the new society.

Downward mobility takes place when a person moves from a higher position in society to a lower one. It can occur when someone is caught performing a wrongful actTop Accounting ScandalsThe last two decades saw some of the worst accounting scandals in history. Billions of dollars were lost as a result of these financial disasters. that can result in the loss of the position they currently hold.

Downward mobility can be extremely stressful for people who face a rapid decline in their social status. They may find it hard to adapt to the new environment, as it is not similar to the standard of living they are used to. Downward mobility is an example of the extent to which a society values equal opportunity and structure.

Inter-generational mobility happens when the social position changes from one generation to another. The change can be upward or downward. For example, a father worked in a factory while his son received an education that allowed him to become a lawyer or a doctor.

Such societal change also causes the generation to adopt a new way of living and thinking. Inter-generational mobility is affected by the differences in the parents’ and their offspring’s upbringing, changes in populationDemographicsDemographics refer to the socio-economic characteristics of a population that businesses use to identify the product preferences and, and changes in occupation.

The intra-generational change in societal position occurs during the lifespan of a single generation. It can also refer to a change in position between siblings. One way is when a person climbs up the corporate ladder in their career. For example, an individual starts their career as a clerk and through their life moves on to a senior position such as a director. One sibling may also achieve a higher position in society than their brother or sister.

More Resources

CFI offers the Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)™Become a Certified Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)®CFI"s Financial Modeling and Valuation Analyst (FMVA)® certification will help you gain the confidence you need in your finance career. Enroll today! certification program for those looking to take their careers to the next level. To keep learning and advancing your career, the following CFI resources will be helpful: