Direction of Social Mobility
When we speak of social mobility, we usually think of an ascent from-lower to higher, but social mobility runs in both directions. Some . climb, some fall, and some stay at the same level as their parents held. Among a sample Are there any reasons for believing that these rates of mobility will be, or will not be, maintained for the next generation?
of Bostonians and Kansas Cities interviewed in 1971 and 1972, 60 percent felt they were , in a higher socioeconomic 'status than their parents, 31 percent said they were the same (but thought their life easier), and only 9 .• percent thought they had dropped in status [Coleman and-Rainwater, 1978, p. 226]. Figure 15-1 shows that there is a good deal of mobility in both directions. The extent of downward individual mobility is me of the tests of an open class society. If practically all people remain firmly fixed in the social-class rank of their parents, then we have a closed class society in which ascription (in this case, parental position) accounts for more than achievement. However, if many people drop, while many others rise, then we can assume that inherited advantages and handicaps are not great enough to keep achievement from being a major determinant of social-class position.