Skip to main content
9.4D: Types of Social Mobility
- Last updated
Save as PDF
- Describe several types of social mobility
- Social mobility refers to the movement of individuals or groups in social position over time.
- Social mobility may refer to classes, ethnic groups, or entire nations, and may measure health status, literacy, or education; however, more commonly it refers to individuals or families, and to their change in income.
- Movement up or down the social hierarchy is called vertical social mobility.
- Movement between two equally ranked social positions is called horizontal mobility.
- Intra-generational mobility (“within” a generation) is defined as change in social status over a single lifetime.
- Absolute mobility measures whether (and by how much) living standards in a society have increased; this is often measured by what percentage of people have higher incomes than their parents.
- Relative mobility refers to how likely children are to move from their parents’ place in the social hierarchy.
- meritocratic: Used to describe a type of society where wealth, income, and social status are assigned through competition.
- vertical mobility: Movement of individuals or groups up or down from one socioeconomic level to another, often by changing jobs or through marriage.
- intra-generational mobility: Change in social status over a single lifetime.