Reconsidering social mobility

…the socially mobile society presupposes inequality. It’s not an egalitarian vision. The struggle for advancement is a zero sum game. What’s at stake are relative positions in a social hierarchy. So rather than attempting to improve the wellbeing of those at the bottom or raise the overall level of prosperity, supporters of the socially mobile society want to make sure that everyone rises or falls to the level they deserve.

– Don Arthur, Missing Link Friday – Social Mobility Edition, 8 April 2011

He makes good point about the assumptions behind social mobility.

Social hierarchies of status and power exist in a socially mobile society. Rather than breaking down social hierarchies and reducing inequality, competing for relative positives in the hierarchy is encouraged. Highly unequal outcomes and relative positions within the hierarchy are justified on the basis of “merit” instead of ”background”.

If this situation is acceptable, it’s worth reconsidering whether the strong focus on social mobility is desirable.

Personally, I don’t think it is.


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