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Upward and downward mobility, meritocracy

Video transcript

so in our society we have a quite a number of ways in which we tend to breakdown society into different layers different social layers and one of the ways that we do that is to break up society into different classes so we can break a society up into the lower class which basically consists of a lot of people who do a lot of manual work laborious work often low paid jobs and then we have what's called the middle class so these are better paying jobs often involving a lot of professionals and right at the top we have the upper class so these tend to be very wealthy businessmen heads of industry people with a lot of family wealth and that occupy very prominent positions and these are called the upper class and one of the things that we know is that your different class position often correlates to the amount of income the amount of income that you get from your job so I guess one of the things that we think about when we think about these different social positions is that can we actually have movement so can an individual actually move around and the answer is yes an individual can in fact move around the different social positions and as various ways an individual can move the first way I want to mention is an individual can move horizontally that's to say an individual can move within the same class so take take our gentleman with the blue hair in the middle so if he works as an accountant in one accounting company if he switches job to a different accounting company but he stays at the same level he's essentially am experiencing horizontal movement that's to say that he is not either going up in terms of the social positioning and he's not going down in terms of social positioning however he could experience something called vertical movement which is either a move up or move down the social hierarchy an example of this would be if he was for example a manager at a restaurant and should he get a promotion and then become the CEO of a fast-food restaurant and he would then perhaps move into a higher hiya sphere however should he get a demotion should he experienced troubles at work and then get bumped down to just a serving food and going on minimum wage he may actually fall down from his middle-class reasonably well-paid job into the lower working class and in that case he would experience downward social movement downward social mobility so as we can see as we discuss social mobility we can have horizontal movement and vertical movement as we have described here there are various different types of social constructs that allow for different levels of social mobility historically some societies have had what's been called the caste system and in the caste system there has been a very very very little social mobility and you may ask why because in the caste system your role in life is really determined almost entirely by your background essentially to what position you're born and to to who you are married to so if we look at the hierarchy the first the caste hierarchy you're really limited to the social group to which you're born regardless of your actual aptitude and achievement what that what that does often provide is a large amount of social stability because the social structures often do not change people's social position doesn't change throughout their life so they remain in the same social situation with the same social network the most common historic example of the caste system was the Hindu caste system which was historically outlawed but some say still practiced to some degree informally today secondly we go on to what's called the class system and this tends to operate in many countries today where we have the upper class the middle class in the lower class and the class system is a step away from the caste system because it allows for a degree of social mobility it is in fact a combination of a person's background alongside their ability it recognizes somebody's ability in terms of allowing them to go up or even down the social ladder but what that actually results in that results in less social stability compared to the caste system people can really change the so the social positioning throughout their life often by means of education for example now finally I want to raise the concept of a rather idealized concept of the meritocracy and what a meritocracy is is a concept that people achieve their social position based on their ability and achievements and solely based on their ability and achievements so in a meritocracy someone's position is not really determined by someone's position is not really determined by theirs place of birth their parental background so this is a highly idealized state that isn't really operating anywhere in the world some people say the United States may be termed a meritocracy but in an ideal meritocracy what we have is actually extreme social mobility people are continuously going up and down depending on their most recent level of performance and achievement so really now instead of background we were basically purely focused on ability and their achievement as you can imagine there may not be as much social stability because their relative kind of the background organization of families and social groups may be much less stable than the caste system and the class system and the purest form of meritocracy so as we can see here in a meritocracy we have the greatest degree of upward and downward social mobility compared to the caste and class system