Social mobility is the movement of an individual or group from one class or social status to another. Social mobility is the upward or downward movement within a stratification system.
Social mobility is typically measured by comparing the status positions of adult children to that of their parents (intergenerational mobility), but it can be measured by comparing a person's status position over their own lifetime (intragenerational mobility). Sociologists see social mobility as a useful way to measure equality of opportunity.
Capitalist societies are open-class and therefore one can expect a high degree of social mobility. According to liberal theory this movement within a stratification system should result from a person's achievements and should not be based on ascribed characteristics such as sex, race, region of birth, and parent's class position.
Usually, the point of reference is an individual's class or status of social origin and social mobility occurs when later class or status positions differ from those of origin. Social mobility would be high where individuals have equal opportunity to achieve new statuses and low where there are inequalities of opportunity and processes of status ascription.
In social mobility we have movement of individuals
or groups from one position to another. Social mobility can be horizontal or vertical.
We usually speak of moves up or down taking into
account factors such as occupation or education. For instance, upward occupational
mobility means moving from a lower status occupation to a higher status occupation.
Downward occupational mobility means moving from a high status occupation to another,
situated at a lower level.
Social mobility concentrates on changes in the socio economical status. Social mobility can be the result of structural changes in the working population, new positions become available or some positions experience a lack of people (there can be a demographical cause) or efforts of individuals, to generate a certain position (e.g. educational level importance of status gaining processes). (Vincke, 1998, p. 265).
There has never existed a society in which vertical social mobility has been absolutely free and the trasition from one social stratum to another has had no resistance. Every organized society is a stratified body. If veritcal mobility were absolutely free, in the resultant society there would be no strata.
Life Chances And Social Mobility
Intergenerational mobility, class mobility and social mobility