Sociology Index E-Books

Vertical Social Mobility

Books Social Mobility

In social mobility we have movement of individuals or groups from one position to another. It might be horizontal social mobility or vertical social mobility. We can classify vertical social mobility as: ascending and descending, or social climbing and social sinking. When the transition of an individual or social object is from one social stratum to another, we call it vertical social mobility.

Vertical social mobility is the transition of an individual from one position to another, situated at a different level. It can be a move up (upwardly mobile) or a move down (downwardly mobile).

Societies have generally enjoyed occupational, economic, and  political vertical social mobility. But there are caste-societies like India without any vertical social mobility for thousands of years. Though not entirely absent in India, vertical social mobility is rare.

Compare the Indian caste-society with the American society. In India occupational, political, and economic vertical social mobility is determined by birth. 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. Among the presidents of the United States, almost 50 percent came from poor families.

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.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.

Vertical social mobility has never been absolutely free and there has been resistance during trasition from one social stratum to another. If veritcal 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.

Democracy and Vertical Social Mobility
"Democratic societies" have more intensive vertical social mobility compared with that of the non-democratic groups. In democratic societies the social position of an individual is not determined by his birth.  Anybody can aspire to attain any position resulting in "greater vertical social mobility."

Vertical Social Mobility in Communist Society - N. S. Timasheff
The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 50, No. 1 (Jul., 1944),
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.