Higher Education and Social Mobility

The term social mobility is thought to have first been coined by the early 20th-century Russian sociologist Pitirim Sorokin. It signifies the process whereby individuals move, over time, between different positions in a system of social stratification. Various kinds of social mobility are identified by scholars: upward and downward; intragenerational and intergenerational; relative and absolute. This entry defines these terms, examines briefly key sociological evidence about social mobility, and connects changes in higher education to debate about changes in social mobility.

Modern societies are often seen as experiencing higher volumes of movement up and down the social hierarchy than more traditional societies. Within traditional Indian society, for instance, social position was essentially fixed upon birth into a particular caste, with associated occupational specialization and social and ...

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