Definition, Reasons and Proposals for the Regulation of Social Mobility

Social issues affect many people and show up in patterns and statistics; these are social trends. A social problem influences a considerable number of people in society, not just one person. The cause of social and economic inequalities is unemployment, low pay, homelessness, lack of education and social class. In the developing world, the UK has one of the lowest rates of social mobility. Therefore, people born into low-income families do not have the same access to opportunities as those born into more affluent circumstances, regardless of their talent or hard work. More impoverished children are likely to be nine months behind children from more affluent families by three years old and have lower educational achievement, a higher rate of behavioural disorders, and early signs of later life health problems such as obesity as parents on low income find it difficult to give their child healthy food, than children from higher-income families. Unemployed people living on a low income can find themselves living in poverty, living in deprived areas with inadequate housing. 

Such disparities are significant contributors to trends of social immobility, health inequality and poverty. Low paid jobs, educational failure, poor health and family stability are all barriers causing poverty in our society. Children with good roots are usually better prepared to succeed in school; these children have an ascribed status given to them at birth and acquire their family’s high-class status throughout their lives. Children from lower-class families tend to fall behind due to education inequality. These children are unlikely to achieve good grades or go onto higher education, and the effects can last a lifetime unless their status changes through hard work and achievement to reach a higher ranking on the social class ladder. A new policy has been outlined in the government's child poverty plan, which offers children a chance to build on their talents and skills at local colleges even if their grades are low. The policy gives more significant emphasis on ensuring that working people are empowered to work their way out of poverty and that families who are unable to work can live in dignity. 

The freedom to shift roles within a social stratification structure is referred to as social mobility. Social mobility occurs when people’s economic status improves or worsens to change their social class. Vertical social mobility can be classified as ascending or descending, depending on the transition direction. Income, education, profession, and social class are all used to measure social mobility. 

Social stratification, according to functionalists, serves an essential and beneficial role and contributes to society's overall stability. It benefits society as a whole and helps in the fulfilment of a functional prerequisite. People are different, according to functionalists, and inequality is a universal characteristic. Many social class divisions are hierarchical in nature. The class division reflects the functional importance of different occupations; they are mutually dependent, and individuals are motivated to get on in a system that is seen to be fair, where everyone can climb up the hierarchy through hard work and making the best use of opportunities. The functionalists see it as an open system where there are few barriers. Functionalists believe that education allocates children to the most appropriate job for their talents; they believe everyone has a chance to succeed regardless of their background or upbringing and can achieve through their efforts; therefore, the class that someone is born into should not affect their opportunities in life.

On the other hand, Marxists see social stratification and the inequalities of the education system as working in the interest of the ruling class elites. Therefore, class inequalities are carried from one generation to the next. Middle-class parents use their material possessions and capital to ensure their children get into the best schools that provide better education. This results in better grades, allowing them to carry on to universities; unlike working-class families who must send their children to state schools who are then more likely to get poor education and low grades, most children must then carry on with no further higher education to earn money from working-class, low paid jobs. A closed system where they cannot move from what they have been ascribed. The bourgeoisie (ruling class) and the proletariat (working class), according to Marxists, are the two dominant groups. The proletariat is oppressed, exploited and alienated; however, they both work well together under a capitalist system, just like the infrastructure, which forms the base or foundation of a business and the superstructure, which forms the facilities and operational procedures of the business, is shaped by the capitalist class ideology and makes up society. Therefore, capitalists require workers to make a profit, and the workers need capitalists to earn money for their physical survival.

Evaluating both theories, the functionalist's approach assumes that everyone in the educational system is equal and meritocratic and that all pupils begin at the same level, grades are achieved through effort and ability, and Social classes are mutually dependent. There is evidence that individuals can climb the hierarchy ladder, but the highly rewarded may erect barriers to block mobility. The Marxists, therefore, believe everyone starts at different levels, and there is evidence that social classes, such as lower-income working class, and ethnic minority groups, underachieve in education, therefore implying that all pupils do not have an equal opportunity to learn. Marxists analyse the role of education in society by focusing on how it serves.

Various functions for different social groups. In contrast, functionalists analyse the effect of education in society by looking at how it leads to preserving social order, and they disagree with the idea of social closure.

The social mobility study: Goldthorpe et al. oxford mobility study. The aim: is to determine if mobility trends had improved over time. The research: was carried out at the Oxford Newfield campus in 1972. The sample: was a survey of 10,000 men aged between 20 and 64 years old from England and wales. The method: interviewing was used as a procedure, and Goldthorpe conducted a comparative study using his class scheme to assign men to seven social classes based on market situations. (sources and levels of income, security of employment, promotional aspects) and work situation (degree of control and authority in a job) usually, classes were divided into service classes including experts and professionals who filled important roles and intermediate and working-class people (three clusters). Goldthorpe felt justified in seeing the service class and the working class as opposite ends of the privilege hierarchy. Goldthorpe's results: show that downward social mobility decreased, but more men from working-class backgrounds were unemployed. Manual labour accounted for two-thirds of the sons of unskilled or semi-skilled workers. There were high rates of absolute mobility but not much relative mobility and about a third of professionals came from working-class backgrounds. The findings: were expressed as the 1:2:4 rule of relative hope, so whatever chance a working boy had of reaching the service class, a boy from the intermediate class had twice the opportunity, and a boy from the service class had four times the chance. Less than half of those polled belonged to the social class they were born into. Equal opportunity had not been reached because the odds were still stacked in favour of those from higher social groups. As a result, there was a substantial decrease in class disparities. 

Blanden, j and Machin M up and down the income ladder in Britain, post changes and prospects. Their aim: was to measure the extent to which the UK is a socially mobile society. Compared to those born before 1970, Blanden and Machin find no evidence that the relationship between these intermediate outcomes (educational success) and parental income has changed for those born after 1970. They are essentially saying that since 1970, Britain has not been any more socially mobile. Children from wealthier families are also more likely to excel in school. They conclude that around 1958 and 1970, there was a substantial drop in mobility, but this did not happen after 1970. However, there is no indication that things are getting better. Up until those born in the year 2000, social mobility appears to be frozen at the low levels seen in 1970. In school, children from lower-income families behave worse, and the probability of equality is decreasing.

Blanden and Machin used participants under forty and income differences in their study; Goldthorpe used male participants 20-64 and occupation differences to measure social mobility, making it easier to compare mobility in the United Kingdom with that of other countries, mainly because of its status particular occupations can change over time. As a result, income inequality indicators can be more reliable than others. A weakness is that it is all focused on the idea that if children attend university, they will get better-paying jobs, which is not always the case in today's economy; many people who earn a law degree do not go on to become well-paid lawyers. To evaluate the above, we must consider the difference between each year regarding the income rate. Blanden and Machin were aware of the challenge they faced, the validity of their comparison of levels of mobility between 1958 and 1970 cohorts, especially in family income, being of roughly the same value from one cohort to another. However, it supports Marxists' view that the decrease in intergenerational mobility will not continue for later cohorts and that mobility will remain low. The problem must be viewed from a more severe perspective, as the transitory component in the family income variable for the 1958 cohort differ from the transitory component in this variable for the 1970 cohort but may be significantly larger.

In conclusion, these findings show how practical these studies have been in supporting sociological explanations for inequality issues and have helped shape or change social inequality, and that these studies are still relevant today. Many social problems have been addressed; the government has laid a good foundation for policy and breaks down barriers in society by addressing inequalities such as poverty and education. The government have opened a gateway to low-income teenagers, assisting them with further learning giving them access to college training to improve the talents and skills they already have and allowing them to achieve the goals they would not usually be able to unless they had achieved high grades. In the past year, many children have fallen behind with their education due to the covid pandemic. Parents have had to do home-schooling but found it hard as they did not have the equipment or money needed to do it. 

07 July 2022
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