Talented people are undoubtedly born in all social classes. If there are no barriers to social achievement, one can expect greater social stability, when some individuals quickly rise and get higher status, others fall on lower ones. But between classes, and within them between layers, there are barriers that have a free transition of individuals from one status group to another. Social classes have subcultures that train the children of representatives of each class to participate in the class structure in which they are socialized. An ordinary child from a family of creative intelligentsia representatives is less likely to absorb the habits and norms that help him to work as a peasant or as a worker. The same can be said about the norms that help him in his work as a leader. Nevertheless, ultimately, he can become not only a writer, like his parents, but also a worker as well as a great leader.
To advance one layer to another or from one social class to another, the "difference in starting opportunities" is important. The sons of the minister and the sons of the peasant have different opportunities for obtaining high official status. Therefore, the generally accepted official point of view which claims that to achieve any heights in society you only need to work and have the ability appears to be untenable.
Any social movement occurs not only in connection with the emergence of desire, but by overcoming more or less significant barriers. Even moving a person from one place of residence to another implies a certain period of adaptation to new conditions.
All social movements of an individual or a social group are included in the process of mobility. According to Sorokin's definition, social mobility is any transition of an individual, group or social object, or value created or modified by activity, from one social position to another, as a result of which the social position of the individual or group changes.
P. Sorokin distinguishes two types of social mobility: horizontal and vertical. Horizontal mobility is the transition of an individual or social object from one social position to another, which lies at the same level. For example, the transition of an individual from one family to another, from one religious group to another one, and a change of residence is a horizontal social mobility.
In all these cases, the individual does not change the social stratum to which he belongs, or social status as well. But the most important process is vertical mobility, which is a set of interactions that facilitate the transition of an individual or a social object from one social layer to another. This includes, for example, the official promotion (professional vertical mobility), significant welfare improvement (economic vertical mobility) or transition to a higher social stratum, to a different level of power (political vertical mobility).
Society can elevate the status of some individuals and lower the status of others. And this makes sense: some individuals possessing talent, energy, youth, should displace from the higher statuses of other individuals who do not possess these qualities. Depending on this, there is an ascending and descending social mobility, or social upsurge and social decline. Rising currents of professional economic and political mobility exist in two main forms: as an individual rise from the lower stratum to the higher, and as the creation of new groups of individuals. These groups are included in the upper layer next to existing ones or instead of them. Similarly, descending mobility exists both in the form of pushing individuals from high social statuses to lower ones, and in the form of lowering the social statuses of the whole group. An example of the second form of descending mobility may be the fall of the social status of a professional group of engineers, which once held a very high position in our society, or a decline in the status of a political party that is losing real power.
In order to understand how the ascension process occurs, it is important to study how separate individual can overcome barriers and boundaries between groups, and climb upwards, ie, increase his social, professional, economic and political status. This desire to achieve a higher status is due to the motive for achievement, which to some extent exists for each individual and is related to his need to achieve success and avoid social setbacks. The actualization of this motive ultimately generates the strength with which the individual strives to achieve a higher social position or decides to stay on the existing position or to keep on existing and not to slide down. The realization of the power of achievement depends on many factors.
The quantitative assessment of mobility processes usually uses indicators of the speed and intensity of social mobility. The speed of mobility can be defined as the vertical social distance or the number of strata - economic, professional or political, that the individual passes in his moving up or down in a certain period of time. For example, within three years after graduating from an institute and starting work on a specialty, an individual manages to become the head of the department, and his colleague who graduated with him, becomes a senior engineer. Obviously, the mobility rate of the first individual is higher, since over the specified period of time he overcame more status levels. On the other hand, if an individual, as a result of existing circumstances or personal weakness, slides from a high social position to the bottom of society, then it is said that he has a high rate of social mobility down the status hierarchy.
The intensity of mobility is the number of individuals changing social positions in a vertical or horizontal direction over a certain period of time. The number of such individuals in any social community gives an absolute intensity of mobility, and their share of the total number of this social community shows relative mobility. For example, if we take into account the number of individuals under the age of 30, divorced and transferred to other families, then we will talk about the absolute intensity of horizontal mobility in this age category. If we consider the ratio of the number of people who have moved to other families to the number of all individuals under the age of 30, then we will talk about relative social mobility in the horizontal direction.
Often there is a need to consider the process of mobility in terms of the relationship between its speed and intensity. In this case, the aggregate mobility index is used for a given social community. In this way it is difficult, for example, to compare one society with another in order to find out in which of them or at what period mobility is higher in all indicators. Such an index can be calculated separately for the economic profession or political field of activity.
Collective (or group) mobility is a change in the social position of a social group or community.
Factors that intensify collective mobility are the reorganization of the social structure and the transition to a new system of stratification, reduced opportunities for individual mobility in a given society, associated with changes in the values assigned to it in the statuses.
Examples of collective mobility can be the "social fall" of the rank of the aristocracy as a social group, which was the result of the fall of many imperial and royal dynasties after social revolutions. And, on the contrary, the Bolsheviks had no special status before the revolution in Russia. During the revolution, this group overcame the social distance and took the highest position in Russian society. As a result, the status of all its members also rose.
Group mobility introduces large changes into the stratification system, often affects the correlation of the main social strata and, as a rule, is associated with the emergence of new groups whose status ceases to correspond to the established hierarchy system. By the middle of the twentieth century, for example, administrators, managers of large enterprises became such a group. It is not coincidental that the concept of a "revolution of managers" is formed on the basis of the changed communication role of managers in Western sociology, according to which the administrative stratum begins to play a decisive role not only in the economy but also in social life, supplementing and even forcing out the class of owners.
Especially at an intensive rate group vertical displacements occur during the period of economic restructuring. The appearance of new prestigious, highly paid professional groups promotes mass movement along the hierarchical ladder. The fall of the social status of the profession, the disappearance of some of them provokes not only a downward movement, but also the emergence of marginalized groups that unite individuals who lose their habitual position in society and lose their level of consumption. There is a blurring of sociocultural values and norms that previously rally them and predetermine their stable place in the social hierarchy.
During periods of acute social cataclysms, radical changes in social-political structures, an almost complete renewal of the higher echelons of society can occur. So, the revolutionary events of 1917 led to the overthrow of the old ruling class and the rapid rise of new social strata to the state-political Olympus, with a new culture and worldview. Such a drastic replacement of the social composition of the society upper stratum takes place in an atmosphere of extreme confrontation, a fierce struggle and always remains very painful.
At the present time, Russia is experiencing a period of stabilization of the political and economic elite. The class of entrepreneurs, who relies on financial capital, strengthens its position precisely as a class claiming to rightfully occupy the upper floors of the social ladder.
Economic crises, accompanied by a fall of the material well-being level, an increase in unemployment, a sharp increase in the income gap, become the root cause of the numerical growth of the most deprived parts of the population, which always constitutes the foundation of the pyramid of the social hierarchy. In such conditions, the movement along the descending line does not cover single individuals, but whole groups of workers in unprofitable enterprises and industries, and some professional groups.
In a stable society, vertical movements are not a group movement, but an individual one. That is, not economic, political or professional groups rise and fall on the steps of the social hierarchy, but some of their representatives, which are more or less successful and are trying to overcome the attraction of the habitual socio-cultural environment. This does not mean that these movements cannot be massive. On the contrary, in modern society the watershed between the strata is overcome by many people relatively easily.
The fact is that an individual who has gone on a difficult path upstairs goes on his own. And, in case of success, he will change not only its position in the vertical hierarchy, but also the social-professional group. The circle of professions that have a vertical structure (for example, in the world of art - stars with millions of states and artists interrupted by casual earnings) is limited and does not have any fundamental significance for society as a whole. A worker who successfully manifested himself in the political arena and made a dizzying career, having reached the ministerial post or having achieved election to parliament, breaks from his place in the social hierarchy and from his professional group. The ruined entrepreneur slides down, losing not only a prestigious place in society, but also an opportunity to engage in the usual business.
Dissatisfaction with the assessment of personal status and lifestyle associated with a particular class position is the main reason for individual mobility. Modern society is distinguished by a fairly high rate of movement of individuals along the vertical. However, history did not know any country where vertical mobility would be absolutely free, and the transition from one layer to another was carried out without any resistance.
P. Sorokin convincingly shows the existence of "social elevators" for social circulation. 1) Thus, the education system allows the most able and gifted to rise to the higher levels of the social hierarchy. 2) Political parties and organizations of the political elite of society. 3) The Institute of Property and Inheritance strengthens and changes the class of owners. 4) Marriage with a representative of the higher status stratum at all times served as the best means of overcoming the barriers that stand in the way of social stability (everyone, of course, remembers the rapid vertical mobility of Cinderella to the highest strata of society). Such a social elevator allows you to move even in the absence of outstanding intellectual abilities.
However, using an elevator to climb up is not always sufficient. In order to gain a foothold in a new stratum, it is necessary to adopt its way of life, organically fit into its sociocultural environment, and build its behavior in accordance with accepted norms and rules. This process is quite painful, since people are often forced to say goodbye to old habits, reconsider their system of values, at first control each of their actions. Adaptation to a new socio-cultural environment requires a high psychological strain, which is fraught with nervous breakdowns, the possibility of developing an inferiority complex, a sense of insecurity, withdrawal into oneself and loss of communication with one's social environment. A person can forever turn out to be an outcast in the social stratum he sought or in which he turned out to be the destiny, if it is a downward movement.
Thus, the process of mobility in general takes a variety of forms - from a simple transition from family to family to ingenious and complex actions aimed at achieving a high status.