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Social Mobility: Concept & Factors responsible for social mobility

Social Mobility: Concept & Factors responsible for social mobility

Meaning of Social Mobility

Mobility stands for shift, change and movement. The change may be of a place or from one position to another. Further, change is value free, it cannot be said that change is for good or bad. When we prefix ‘social’ along with mobility it would imply that people or individual occupying a social position, move to another position or status. In the social ladder, this movement may be upward or downward or it may be inter-generational or intra-generational. In short, social mobility stands for change in the position of an individual or a group of individuals from one status to another.

On mobility, Sorokin was the first sociologist who wrote a book “Social and Cultural Mobility”. He was of the opinion that there is no society which is closed (Caste System in India) and no society which is completely opens (Class System). He further contended that no two societies are exactly same in the amount of movement allowed or discouraged. Further, the speed of movement or change may differ from one period of time to another. The rate of change depends upon the level of modernization of a given society.

Factors Responsible for Social Mobility

The following factors facilitate Social Mobility:

  1. Motivation-Each individual has a desire not only to have a better way of living, but in addition to this, he also wants to improve upon his social stand. In open system it is possible to achieve any status. This openness motivates people to work hard and improve upon the skills so that one can attain higher social status. Without such motivation and efforts on the part of the individual social mobility is impossible.
  2. Achievements and Failures- Achievement here refers to extraordinary, usually unexpected performance, which attracts the attention of a wider public to the abilities of a person. Not all achievements will result in social mobility. Achievements affect status only if they are remarkable. For example, a poor man who has acquired wealth or an unknown writer who has won a literary prize will improve his status.
  3. Education– Education not only helps an individual to acquire knowledge, but is also a passport for occupational position for higher prestige. To become a doctor one has to have education in science subjects. Similarly, to appear in a competitive examination such as I.A.S., one has to be, at least graduate. It is only after acquiring minimum formal education that an individual can aspire to occupy higher positions. It is through education that in modern India the members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are not only able to change their traditional occupation, but have also started occupying jobs of higher prestige. In modern industrial society in which status can be achieved, education is basic requirement.
  4. Skills and Training-Each society makes provision to impart skill and training to the younger generation. To acquire skill and training one has to spend a lot of time, as well as money. The society gives incentives to such persons, when they complete their training; they are entitled to high positions, which are far better than these positions which they might have taken without such training. Keeping in view these incentives, people undergo these training with a hope to move up in the social ladder. In other words, skills and training facilitate in improvement of the position, this leading to social mobility,
  5. Migration– Migration also facilitates social mobility. People migrate from one place to another either due to pull or push factors. A particular place may not have, opportunities and facilities to improve upon. Hence, people are forced to migrate to other places to earn their livelihood. At new places, where they migrate, may have different openings and opportunities People migrate from villages to cities because urban centres have institutions of higher status, as well as opportunities for jobs. People come to urban areas to acquire education and skills and occupy higher positions than their parents and brothers who continue to live in villages.
  6. Industrialization-Industrial Revolution ushered in a new social system in which people are given status according to their ability and training. No importance was given to their caste, race, religion and ethnicity. Industrialization resulted in mass production at cheaper rate. This forced the artisans out of their work. In search of jobs, they migrated to industrial towns. They acquired new vocational training and got jobs in industries. With experience and training, they moved up on the social ladder. In industrial society, the status is achieved, whereas in the traditional society like India, the status is ascribed according to birth. Hence industrialization facilitates greater social mobility.
  7. Urbanization-In the cities, there are more people, and they have formal relations. People do not know each other intimately. Urban centres are marked by anonymity. People are close to their friends and relatives only. Urban settlements provide secrecy to individual’s caste and background. Individual’s position is largely dependent upon his education, occupation and income rather than his background.
  8. Legislation– The enactment of new laws can also facilitate social mobility. When Zamindari Abolition Act was passed, most of the tenant cultivators became owner cultivators which indicated improvement in their status from tenants to owner cultivators. Similarly, the legal provision for reservation of jobs and promotion for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has also helped in social mobility.
  9. Politicization– Education and greater exposure to mass media and communication as well as more contacts have made people aware about their rights. The political parties also educate the people about their rights. To achieve their rights, people unite and force the authority in power to accept their demands. These persons may use agitations, strikes, etc. as methods of attaining the desired goals.
  10. Modernization– The process of modernization involves use of scientific knowledge and modern technology. It also refers to rationality and secular way of life. With the improvement in technology, people engaged in occupations of low prestige, like scavengers, discard their traditional occupations and take up occupations which are not dirty and have no polluting effects.

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