The Popularity of Social Mobility in Britain During the Last Fifty Years

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The Popularity of Social Mobility in Britain During the Last Fifty Years

Some sociologists have argued that social mobility has become more mobile over the last fifty years, and that there is a lot of movement up and down the class system. However this view is not shared by all sociologists, as some would argue that Britain is more of a "closed" society than an "open" one. Different sociologists have opposing views on social class. All agree that it is an important aspect of society, but there is a disagreement as to the extent of how "open" or "closed" society has become.

Social class has been defined in various ways by different groups of sociologists. The Marxists argue that in a capitalist
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Weberians look at status and power divisions that are based on gender and ethnic background as well as economic wealth.

The functionalists argue that an "open" social class system allows mobility between classes ensuring that the most talented individuals are given the opportunity to reach the top and to perform the roles vital for society. They think that intra-generational mobility is not too difficult to achieve, and society provides everyone with opportunities. Other sociologists would argue against this view and say that society is not as "open" as the functionalists make it out to be. For example, if an Eden student and a student from an ordinary state school were to apply to a university with the same the exam grades, the Eden student would be more likely to get the place because of their background.

In an "open" society, the social background of individuals should make no difference to their chance of mobility. However, as with the Eden and state school student, social class background and low levels of educational qualifications can reduce people's chances of mobility. Gender and ethnic background can also influence opportunities. For example, although women may receive better qualifications than men, they may be less likely to move upwards through employment than men as a result of taking time out to bring up children. Recently it has become less common for employers to
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