Understanding Social Mobility: Theory, Form, Influencing Factors

Definition of Social Mobility – Does Reader realize that in this social life, there is bound to be a shift or change in social strata for each individual? Or even the move or change in social strata has actually happened to you and your family?

The existence of the transfer or change of the social stratum is a natural thing to be able to happen, whether it is a change towards a higher social stratum or even a lower one from the previous social stratum. This happens because every member of society must want to have a better life than before, so they will actively try to change the social strata.

So, what is the meaning of social mobility? Reader must already know that mobility means displacement, so what about social mobility?

Well, so that Reader can understand that, let’s read the following comments!

Understanding Appropriate Mobility According to Experts

The discussion about social mobility is included in the discipline of sociology, so the understanding of it is of course expressed by experts who are sociologists.

Edward Ransford

According to Ransford, social mobility is a move that leads up or down in a hierarchical social environment.

Anthony Giddens

According to Giddens, social mobility is something that refers to the movement of an individual and groups between different socioeconomic positions.

William Kornblum

Kornblum believes that social mobility is the movement of individuals, families, and social groups from one social layer to another.

Michael S. Bassis

According to Bassis, social mobility is a process of upward and downward movement in the socioeconomic environment that can change a person’s social status in the social order.

Kimball Young and Raymond W. Mack

These two sociologists stated that social mobility is a process of mobility in the social structure, namely certain patterns that regulate the organization in a social group.

Paul B. Horton

Horton also expressed his opinion related to social mobility, which is a movement of movement from one social class to another, or movement from one stratum to another.

Well, based on these definitions, it can be concluded that social mobility is a process of movement that occurs in individuals or groups from one social position to another social position . Regarding Indonesian society today, it has an open social layer system, so the level of social mobility can increase compared to the closed social layer system. In a closed social layer system, it actually tends to be low in terms of social mobility, as can be seen in societies that still prioritize the caste system.

Social mobility will always involve three main things, namely.

  1. Social class changes, both upwards and downwards.
  2. Experienced by humans as individuals and in groups.
  3. Gaining a new social class.

Theory About Social Mobility

In the same way as the main subject matter in the sub-discipline of science, this social mobility also has various theories, so it does not come from the thought of “nawur” only. Theories about social mobility have been formulated by sociologists, such as Martin Lipset and Hans Zetterberg, Ralph Turner, and Pitirim Sorokin. Well, here is a review of those theories!

1. Martin Lipset and Hans Zetterberg

The theory of social mobility that was initiated by Martin and Hans focuses on the causes and dimensions of the occurrence of social mobility among the community.

In terms of the causes of social mobility there are two. First, there is supply from unfilled status positions. Second, there is a change in levels. Simply put, whenever there is social mobility with upward movement, there will definitely also be downward movement.

Meanwhile, in terms of the dimensions of social mobility, there are four dimensions:

  • Occupation Ranking

In this first dimension, experts argue that a job owned by an individual is believed to be an important factor that differentiates the existence of beliefs, values, norms, habits, and even emotional expression from an individual.

  • Consumption Ranking

In this consumption ranking dimension, it refers to the lifestyle owned by an individual or a group of people. People who have the same lifestyle and honor ( prestige ) will usually be in the same consumption class. This consumption calculation index is not based on total employment income, but on the total income that has been spent on certain activities.

  • Social Class Ranking

In this dimension, an individual can be said to be in the same social class as other individuals, when they accept the individual together and have relationships between individuals.

For example, A is an ordinary student who is in the middle social class. However, he hangs out with a group of students in the upper social class. Well, the people who are in that group, accept A with pleasure to join them. This makes A in the upper social class dimension, even though he comes from a middle social class.

  • Power Rankings
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In this ranking dimension, it refers to role relationships, in the form of power relationships owned by individuals. They believe that the power or position owned by other individuals can be a “vehicle” in this social mobility effort.

2. Ralph Turner

The theory proposed by Ralph Turner links the education system with existing social mobility efforts. The assumption behind the thought is that there is an open class system, marked by the opening of public schools, so that there will be opportunities for the community to do vertical social mobility.

Ralph Turner also stated that there are two types of social mobility, which are based on community norms, namely sponsor mobility and contest mobility.

In sponsor-type mobility, the determination of community members who can enter the upper social class is through selection and is based on some necessary criteria. The determination also cannot be canceled by any strategy.

Meanwhile, in the type of contest mobility, there is a system where the upper social status becomes a gift or reward for a person, if he succeeds through the various efforts he does in an open competition. From the “contest” of the competition, a person will use their abilities and strategies to compete with other individuals fairly.

3. Pitirim Sorokin

The third theory expressed by Sorokin is related to the opportunity or chance of social mobility for an individual or a group of individuals.

Sorokin thinks that in a society not everyone will get the same opportunity as others to be able to change their social status.

Through the theory, Sorokin indirectly divided two types of social mobility, namely horizontal mobility and vertical mobility.

Forms of Social Mobility

Basically, every human being, both individually and in groups, will never feel satisfied with what they get in their lives, so they want to continue to move towards a better social status. Social mobility is of course closely related to social stratification, because it refers to the definition of movement from one social layer to another, both downward and upward.

Well, the following are the forms of mobility that occur in the social order.

1. Horizontal Social Mobility

Horizontal social mobility is the change of individuals and groups as social objects towards other social groups of equal status. The meaning of this level is that there is no change in the degree of the person’s position.

For example, Pak Kuncoro is a Mathematics teacher in high school, but because the high school environment does not suit him, he decided to become a Mathematics teacher in junior high school.

In horizontal social mobility this can happen in the following cases:

  • Level or Status

Social mobility is closely related to the level or social status possessed by an individual, even if it is equal or horizontal. For example, Pak Yohan was the principal at SMA Produce, then he was transferred to become the principal at SMA Wei. What happened to Pak Yohan can still be called social mobility but in an equal social status.

  • Territory

Social mobility can happen in any small matter. Even moving the place or region where you work can also be called horizontal social mobility, because your social status is still the same as before.

2. Vertical Social Mobility

Vertical social mobility is a form of movement of individuals or groups as social objects towards unequal social positions. The meaning of unequal is that the social status can go up (up) or down (down). There are several factors that cause vertical social mobility, namely:

  • Wealth

This factor can certainly change the position or social position of a person, which can make him richer or even poorer.

  • Authority

Factors of power can also cause vertical social mobility. A person who has a certain power tends to easily rise to a position so that his power increases and his social mobility can increase drastically. And vice versa, when a person does not have enough power to rise to a position, he will also experience downward social mobility.

  • Education

The main channel so that a person can experience social mobility fairly is through education, especially formal education. A person with a good educational background will certainly experience an increase in position and social status, especially when working.

The Direction of Upward Vertical Social Mobility

Previously, it has been written that this vertical social mobility has two directions, namely upwards and downwards. For upward social mobility, it also has two forms, namely:

  • Get into a higher position or social status

In this upward social mobility, it usually happens that someone who was at the bottom of social status at the time, then something happens that causes him to get an increase in social status. For example, there is an honorary teacher who was accepted by CPNS. That of course made him experience an increase in social status as a result of his promotion.

  • Form a new group

The formation of this new group is based on the fact that the group did not exist before. However, it should be known that the “figures” who make up this new group must also be of a higher social status.

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The Direction of Social Mobility is Downward

Similar to the upward (upward) direction of social mobility, downward (downward) social mobility also has the main forms, namely:

  • Drop a position

This demotion will usually be related to the department in his work environment. For example, a retired civil servant. When he becomes a pensioner, of course he will indirectly lower his social status because his power when holding a certain position has “lost”.

  • The decrease in the degree of individual groups because there is disintegration

According to the Indonesian Language Dictionary (KBBI), disintegration is a state of disunity. As a result of this disintegration, a group of individuals can drop their social status simultaneously.

3. Intergenerational Social Mobility

This inter-generational mobility is marked by the development of the standard of living in a family’s life, whether it is decreasing or increasing. The main thing in this form of mobility is not the development of the offspring, but the transfer of social status that has an impact on the generation.

For example, there is a chili trader who only completed his education up to Primary School. However, he managed to send his son to school until he graduated from sailing school. This child managed to change his and his family’s status so that it could be different from the previous status of his parents.

4. Intragenerational Social Mobility

Intragenerational horizontal mobility is the transfer of status experienced by a person in the same generation. The meaning of the same generation is that the transfer of the status happens to himself, not to the achievements of his children or family members.

For example, there is someone who previously worked as a construction porter. Thanks to his perseverance and luck, he managed to become a foreman.

Another example is that teenagers born in the ’90s have the opportunity to develop science and technology because they are currently in the digital and globalization era.


Inhibiting Factors and Encouraging Factors of Social Mobility

Factors Inhibiting the Occurrence of Social Mobility

The occurrence of this social mobility is driven by several factors, namely structural factors and individual factors. Well, here is the description.

Structural Factors

1. Job Structure

Generally, economic activities carried out in the community are divided into two sectors, namely the formal sector and the informal sector. The existence of these differences clearly affects the level of “success” of the social mobility of the people involved.

Especially in the agricultural sector, the members of the community involved are more likely to have a low status position, so the level of mobility will also be low.

However, that does not necessarily make them “fail” in their social mobility efforts. Right now there are many members of the community who work in the agricultural sector and have succeeded in social mobility, both horizontally and vertically.

2. Double Economy

This dual economy usually occurs in developing countries, causing dualism. First, economic activities are still dominated by traditional elements. Second, its economic activities are dominated by modern elements.

3. Learning Experience

Members of the community who come from the middle social class, generally have a more secure learning experience than the learning experience owned by members of the community from the lower social class.

Moreover, there is a view that degrees, tests, recommendations, even the network of relationships between friends can be a place to exchange information accompanied by recommendations related to job opportunities. This makes it difficult for outsiders to “break through”, so it will cause discrimination.

Individual Factors

  1. Differences in Ability
  2. Differences in Behavior
  • Education
  • Work Habits
  • Delayed Pleasure Patterns
  • Ability to Play
  • Value Gap Patterns
  • Luck Factor

Economic Conditions

The economic situation is the main thing to encourage the occurrence of social mobility, especially in individuals or groups of individuals who live in low economic conditions. When they “dare” to move to another area and manage to raise their status even if it is not too high, it can be called mobility.

Driving Factors for Social Mobility

1. Changes in the Political Situation

Changes in the political situation that occur in a country can basically be a form of people’s support for the new government structure. Well, through those supports, then an individual also has the desire to develop his “business” so that he can do social mobility.

2. Social and Cultural Changes

In community life, whether in urban or rural areas, there will always be changes, both in social structure, social interaction, and the prevailing value system. These changes can later encourage individuals to adjust to the demands of the changes, so that they will unconsciously create a desire to do social climbing.

Remember, social climbing is the transfer of the social status of members of society from a lower social class to a higher social class. Not only that, technological progress and ideological changes also open up the possibility of upward mobility and “create” a new stratification that develops in society.

3. Economic Changes

The economic situation that is going on in a society, of course, gives encouragement to individuals or groups of individuals to improve their social status. Especially if the economic situation at that time improved and made them successful in carrying out various types of business.

  1. Poverty Factor
  2. Factors of Class Discrimination
  3. Racial and Religious Difference Factors
  4. Gender Difference Factors
  5. Difference of Interest

Well, that’s the explanation of the meaning of social mobility and its forms. Reader must have experienced this social mobility, both between generations and intragenerations, because this is very natural to happen, especially to all individuals who live in an open social layer system.