What is meant by "education and social mobility?"What is meant by education and social mobility? ‘Issues in Education’ as it relates to Education and the Social Environment, Education and...

What is meant by "education and social mobility?"

What is meant by education and social mobility?

‘Issues in Education’ as it relates to Education and the Social Environment, Education and social mobility, and Caribbean Education and Globalization 

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The phrase "education and social mobility" implies a relationship between the two processes, between the process of education and the process of "social mobility." Let's define the sociological and economics term "social mobility": social mobility is the shifting from one social-economic (socio-economic) group to another; this may be a shift from a higher to a lower socio-economic group as well as the desired shift from a lower to a higher group.

Thus social mobility is the term that defines improvement in one's earning capacity and in one's social status. Unfortunately, social mobility can go either way: one may rise to a higher earning/status level or one may fall to a lower earning/status level. The recent economic collapse, now called the Great Recession, illustrates how downward social mobility can occur: job loss and home foreclosures forced individuals and families to lower socio-economic levels because their income streams stopped and/or their debt burdens soared while they became permanently or temporarily homeless.

There are several "interventions" in socio-economic status that can induce social mobility. For upward mobility, successful education through the secondary and, optimally, at the higher education level (post-high school) is a prime intervention. In other words, if individuals in the deprivation and skilled labor worker levels can successfully complete secondary and higher education, they have accelerated opportunities to rise to middle and potentially higher socio-economic classes. Children of immigrants have routinely used this path to induce social mobility to middle and higher socio-economic classes.

Thus the phrase "education and social mobility" connotes the relationship between becoming successfully educated and rising to higher socio-economic classes.

Stephen Holliday eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Education and upward social mobility used to march in lock step--as the phrase "education and social mobility" implies.  I think the real question is, "What kind of education leads to upward social mobility?"  

We live in a world that increasingly views a traditional liberal arts education as irrelevant, and most students who enter the university and community college systems seem to be aware that their paths to upward social mobility lead not from the study of English or history or philosophy but from business administration and "change management" and mechanical engineering.  As I write this, I am aware that my definition of "education" places me among the Luddites, but there I am.

If it is still true that education leads to upward social mobility, I would argue that this paradigm now excludes (ok, my arguments are reactionary)  education in the liberal arts.  My belief rests on many years of teaching English composition and literature,  during which I have seen my students' abilities to read and write, as well as their desire to read and write,  drop to zero.  Very few students would include reading and writing as part of their approved curricula.  They now view English (and history, philosophy, sociology, art)  as a necessary evil--an unavoidable General Education requirement--that will get them closer to courses that they believe translate to higher incomes, which will, in turn, lead to upward social mobility.

I suppose that "education and social mobility" are still loosely related, but I am not sure what that "education" really is.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Education is directly related to social mobility, in that you are not going to be upwardly mobile without education.  Education alone is not always enough, however.  In class-conscience societies such as the Caribbean, it can be very difficult to get past family history.  The one chance you have for upward mobility is try to educate yourself, and thus get a better job and interact more with the upper classes.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to educate yourself without the proper resources.  Education costs money, and unless you find a benefactor chances of upward mobility are slim, even if you have the talent.

Historically, there were few opportunities for social advancement in the Caribbean unless you were white.  One alternative is the church.  The church was one way people who were not white could control their own destiny.

When social practice blocked the upward mobility of nonwhite members within the hierarchy of the churches, they flocked to form their own congregations. (see the link mongabay.com)

The church’s influence was limited though.  The legacy of the barriers to social advancement still remain.

Michael Ugulini eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I totally agree with Post #8. Education used to definitely be a precursor to upward social mobility. However, in today's chaotic national and international economies there is no guarantee that a degree, certificate, or any other educational institution endorsement will lead to upward social mobility.

It may, but other factors come into play. These include business acumen, taking advantage of incentives provided by governments, providing a product or service better than someone else is (or is doing less effectively), having a good mentor in your chosen field, and researching a market thoroughly and providing something new (and needed) to them.

Upward social mobility today demands being creative and taking advantage of new ideas, platforms, and technologies to give yourself the best advantage in overcoming the obstacles that economic turmoil causes.

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Many people view education as one of the great "equalizers" of the past century.  Education has given many students an opportunity to improve their quality of life, and this primarily occurs through students or graduates finding better jobs or employment opportunities due to their increased education.  When historians or sociologists use a term like 'social mobility,' they refer to the idea of a person improving their status in society, usually in the economic sense.  This cycle is really a product of a basic cause and effect model.  Cause: Student receives better education. Effect: Student finds better job as a result.  The better job means higher wages, and with those higher wages, the former student can find a better place to live, better food, nicer clothes, better health care.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Of course you know what education is.  Social mobility is when people go up or down the social ladder.  In other words, it occurs when a person or family becomes significantly richer or poorer over time. 

When discussed along with education, social mobility is usually about children coming to be better off than their parents.  Such discussions tend to center on whether a country’s educational system is good enough to make this happen.  In other words, are we educating all children well enough so that children born to poor parents can themselves become members of the middle class or higher?


e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As education serves to qualify people for many specific types of jobs, education can prepare a person to get a good job with a good income attached. 

If this income is an improvement over the income of a person's former income (or parent's income), the job will represent upward mobility, moving into a greater pay scale. 

Having increased access to good jobs is believed to equate with greater access to money which in turn allows greater access to goods, services, and "quality of life" things (like more expansive/larger housing, etc.).

trophyhunter1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the past, education led to social mobility. However, that is not necessarily true in today's world. The economy has been in a downturn for awhile. Education does not guarantee a good job like it might have 50 years ago. There are many unemployed, highly educated people. Sometimes, someone with drive and a good business, or with a particular skill that fills a niche might be more socially mobile than the person with a law degree she is not using.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to agree that the greatest connection between education and social mobility is that one is, mainly, dependant upon the other. While some success stories do exist (in regards to finding success without education), many only find success through education. If a person ends up doing better than their family, they have succeeded at obtaining social mobility.