Sociology Index

Vertical Social Mobility

Vertical social mobility is also called social climbing or social sinking. Ascending vertical social mobility and descending vertical social mobility occurs when the transition of an individual or social object is from one social stratum to another. Vertical social mobility is the transition of an individual from one position to another, and it can be a move up, upwardly mobile, or a move down, downwardly mobile. Social mobility is movement of individuals or groups from one position to another. Mobility can be horizontal social mobility or vertical social mobility. Due to globalization in modern economies there is a great amount of Demand Mobility among occupations. Occupational vertical social mobility, economic vertical social mobility, and political vertical social mobility are common.

In social mobility the movement can obviously occur in any of three directions – ascending from lower to higher, descending from higher to lower, or movement between two positions at the same level. The first two types of movement are known as vertical social mobility and the third one as horizontal social mobility. In other words, when a person changes his status by moving from one position to another, the movement is called vertical social mobility.

When the man in the street speaks of vertical social mobility he usually means something much more specific, namely mobility up or down a vertical hierarchy. Among the presidents of the United States, almost 50 percent came from poor families. United States of America a classic example of vertical social mobility. People in India generally inherit occupational status of their fathers, but in the United States, the majority of the people change their occupations at least once in a lifetime.

Vertical social mobility has never been absolutely free and there has been resistance during trasition from one social stratum to another. If veritcal social mobility were absolutely free, there would be no stratification. Depending on the nature of the stratification, there are ascending and descending currents of economic, political, and occupational mobility. Mass vertical social mobility may accur during periods of mass upheaval when there is a breakdown of social structure.

Vertical Social Mobility In India

Compare the Indian caste-society with the American society. In India, occupational, political, and economic vertical social mobility is determined by birth, whereas in the United States, 38.8 per cent of the captains of industry and finance, in the early period and 19.6 per cent in the present generation started poor. In caste societies like India, there was no vertical social mobility for thousands of years.

The histories of Greece, Rome, Egypt, China, Medieval Europe, and so on show the existence of a vertical social mobility much more intensive than that of the Indian caste-society. Though not entirely absent in India, vertical social mobility is rare.

Democracy And Vertical Social Mobility

Democratic societies have more intensive vertical social mobility compared with that of the non-democratic groups. Anybody can aspire to attain any position resulting in greater vertical social mobility.

Communism And Vertical Social Mobility

Vertical Social Mobility in Communist Society - N. S. Timasheff
Abstract: The Russian Revolution is a four-phase process. The phases are distinguished by varying criteria of social prestige and by significant change in the composition and ranking of social groups. The critical years which separate the phases are 1921, 1929, and 1934. As the result of the social process belonging to the fourth phase, Russia, on the eve of the second World War, was once more a stratified society consisting of a ruling elite, the Nonparty Bolsheviks, the "toilers," and the paupers. Membership in these groups displays the tendency to become hereditary.