Shows the link between people’s past and future opportunities
Can produce a better picture of class opportunities/potential.
Brings a rigour to any ‘common sense’ acceptance of ‘Meritocracy.’
Why study social mobility?
This will be passed on from generation to generation.
Lower social mobility signifies class solidarity, strong class identity.
Social mobility is a good indicator of life chances for the individual.
Types of Social Mobility
There is no opportunity to move from one class to another.
Positions are ‘ascribed’ – they are fixed.
This is when we can move up….and down the class groups.
This can be based on ‘Meritocracy’.
ABSOLUTE MOBILITY AND RELATIVE MOBILITY
‘ ABSOLUTE MOBILITY’ REFERS TO THE TOTAL MOBILITY THAT TAKES PLACE IN A SOCIETY
‘ RELATIVE MOBILITY’ REFERS TO THE COMPARATIVE CHANCES OF THOSE FROM VARIOUS CLASS BACKGROUNDS OF REACHING PARTICULAR POSITIONS IN THE SOCIAL STRUCTURE
IT IS THE LATTER MEASUREMENT WHICH CAN MORE ACCURATELY TELL US HOW ‘FAIR’ A STRATIFIED SOCIETY IS, OR IS NOT.
What do you think this means?
How does this explain the way we can change our class position?
This is a concept associated with Action theorist Max Weber.
Broadly, Social Closure suggests that dominant elites protect their privileges by closing off the routes to higher status that lower groups might otherwise have taken.
This is achieved by ‘networking’ (the ‘old school tie’ syndrome), language, private members clubs, dress codes, behavioural patterns and education.
For instance ‘endogamy’ - marrying within one’s class.
All of these serve to exclude others from the elite, shoring up their status while ensuring that others remain where they are.
You should be aware of any studies which seem to offer evidence of low social mobility (i.e. Ianelli and Paterson, Edinburgh University, 2005, who suggest that social mobility is on the decline within the UK)
A STRATIFIED SOCIAL SYSTEM IN WHICH ALL SOCIAL POSITIONS ARE OPEN TO ALL MEMBERS OF THE SOCIETY
POSITIONS ARE FILLED ON THE BASIS OF MERIT
‘ ASCRIBED’ STATUS REFERS TO SOCIAL POSITION WHICH IS ACQUIRED AT BIRTH
‘ ACHIEVED’ STATUS REFERS TO SOCIAL POSITION INDIVIDUALS ACQUIRE IN THEIR OWN LIFETIME
‘ UPWARD’ SOCIAL MOBILITY
‘ DOWNWARD’ SOCIAL MOBILITY
SOCIAL MOBILITY STUDIES
MODERN INDUSTRIAL SOCIETIES ARE SAID TO BE OPEN SOCIETIES BECAUSE SOCIAL MOBILITY IS POSSIBLE, AND PEOPLE CAN MOVE UP OR DOWN THE SOCIAL CLASS HIERARCHY
HOW MANY PEOPLE MOVE UP OR DOWN THE SOCIAL HIERARCHY?
HOW FAR DO THEY MOVE AWAY FROM THEIR CLASS OF ORIGIN?
DO SOME SOCIAL GROUPS HAVE BETTER CHANCES OF REACHING THE TOP THAN OTHERS?
IS THERE A HIGH LEVEL OF SELF-RECRUITMENT AT THE TWO EXTREMES OF THE CLASS HIERARCHY?
DO MEN AND WOMEN HAVE EQUAL CHANCES OF MOBILITY?
MEASUREMENT OF SOCIAL MOBILITY
‘ INTERGENERATIONAL’ SOCIAL MOBILITY COMPARES AN ADULT’S PRESENT OCCUPATION WITH THAT OF THE FAMILY S/HE WAS BORN INTO
‘ INTRAGENERATIONAL’ SOCIAL MOBILITY COMPARES A PERSON’S PRESENT OCCUPATION WITH HIS/HER FIRST OCCUPATION, THEREFORE SHOWING HOW MUCH S/HE HAS ACHIEVED IN HIS/HER LIFETIME
A number of studies (i.e. Goldthorpe or the Oxford Studies – Glass, ’49) have been conducted to ascertain the rates of class mobility in the UK. Recent research suggests that we are a less mobile nation than we were 50 years ago.
In ‘Social Mobility: An Overview of the Evidence’ (2004) the government itself finds that a middle class child is 15 times more likely to stay middle class than a working class child is to become middle class.
A baby’s fate is fixed at 22 months. Deprived of a rich culture, language, expectations and self-esteem (‘cultural capital’), children begin to fall behind before they reach school .
Only 1% of the population earn £100,00. How much do you think the average UK wage is? Does these differentials matter?
In the US, 3% of students at top colleges come from working class backgrounds (G. Younge, Guardian)
In ‘Fortune’ magazine – the top 100 CEOs average compensation in 1970 was $1.3m (40 times the average wage). By 1998, it was $37.5 m, or 1,000 times the average wage. Again, does this matter?
Of Scotland’s 19 million acres of land, 16 are owned privately.
Scottish children born into unskilled manual families are 7 to 8 times less likely to go to University than the children of middle class professionals.
Residents of Bearsden can expect to live an average 8years longer than residents of nearby Drumchapel.
Does any of this matter for social mobility?
The TUC – ‘Commission on Vulnerable Employment’ (2008)
Number of poor children living in working households – 1.4 million. This figure has not shifted since the Labour party came to power in 1997.
50% of children living in poverty have a parent in work.
One fifth of all UK workers (5.3 million people) are paid less than £6.67 an hour, two thirds of the median wage. The chance of an employer being inspected by Minimum Wage officials is once every 330 years.
The Compass think tank (2008) also offer some sobering statistics: while half of Britain’s population own just 6% of its wealth, the top 1% own a quarter of it.
The top 10% of the UK population owns 54% of the wealth and that’s ‘only what they declare, ’ whilst the ‘bottom tenth pays 38% of its earnings in direct and indirect taxation, while the top tenth pays 34% - and top tax avoiders pay far less.’ (Toynbee 2008)
The total remuneration packages of the chief executives of the 30 biggest UK companies rose 33% in 2007-08. (Toynbee 2008)
Greg Philo (The Guardian, 2010):
‘ We are a very wealthy nation (the total personal wealth is £9,000 billion), a sum that dwarves the national debt. It is mostly concentrated at the top, so the richest 10% own £4,000bn, with an average per household of £4m. The bottom half of our society own just 9%.’
Know Your Incomes! ‘ Boosting social mobility without addressing income inequality is like trying to diet without worrying about calories.’ R. Wilkinson, co-author of ‘the Spirit Level.’ (2008)
18 of the 29 present Cabinet Ministers (writing in 2010) are millionaires.
Between 2000 and 2010, the total pay awarded to the top executives at FTSE 100 companies ballooned by more than 160%. Executive pay in the smaller FTSE 250 companies increased by 118% (Income Data Services 2010).
How would the perspectives of Functionalism and Marxism explain such huge salaries?
In polling conducted by the Compass think tank (2010), only 9% of people correctly estimated that the average chief executive of a FTSE 100 company is paid more than £4m a year.
At the other end of the spectrum, 61% of poor children live in working households, the victims of ‘poverty pay’ (2010).
How aware do you believe the UK public are of these kinds of figures?
THE 1:2:3 RULE OF RELATIVE HOPE (Kellner and Wilby, 1980)
WHATEVER THE CHANCE A BOY FROM A WORKING-CLASS BACKGROUND HAS OF REACHING SOCIAL CLASS I OR II, A BOY FROM A LOWER MIDDLE-CLASS FAMILY HAS ABOUT TWICE THE CHANCE AND A BOY FROM AN UPPER MIDDLE-CLASS FAMILY HAS ABOUT THREE TIMES THE CHANCE OF ENTERING CLASS I OR II AS AN ADULT. THIS CLEARLY SHOWS AN INEQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY IN THE CHANCES OF UPWARD MOBILITY IN BRITAIN
Think about how we are invited to think about these issues by the official mediums of information:
The dominance of middle class values and lifestyles. Should we all have to aspire to this single way of seeing the world?
How might the esteem and agency of working class communities be impacted by this assumption?
Given we are said to live in a ‘meritocracy,’ what are we being invited to think about the poor; what impact might this have on social policy, for example welfare spending?
(Raised by O. Jones (2011) in ‘chavs: the Demonisation of the Working Class’)