Channels of vertical mobility - History of Sociology

Vertical Mobility Channels

The most complete description of channels of vertical mobility for his time is given by P. Sorokin. Only he calls them channels of vertical circulation. He believes that since vertical mobility exists to some extent in any society, even in primitive society, there are no impassable borders between strata. Between them there are various holes, elevators, membranes, but which individuals move up and down.

Of particular interest are social institutions - army, church, school, family, property, which are used as social circulation channels (Figure 13.6).

The Army functions as a channel not in a peaceful, but in a time of war. Major losses among command staff lead to the filling of vacancies from lower ranks. In wartime, soldiers are advancing thanks to talent and courage. Having risen in rank, they use the gained power as a channel for further advancement and accumulation of wealth. They have the opportunity to plunder, loot, capture trophies, take indemnities, lead slaves, surround themselves with pompous ceremonies, titles, transfer their power by inheritance.

Channels of social mobility (but P. Sorokin)

Fig. 13.6. Channels of social mobility (but P. Sorokin)

It is known that of the 92 Roman emperors, 36 have achieved this, starting with the lower ranks. Of the 65 Byzantine emperors, 12 advanced due to an army career. Napoleon and his entourage, marshals, generals and the kings of Europe appointed by them came from commoners. Cromwell, Grant, Washington and thousands of other commanders reached the highest position thanks to the army.

The Church as a channel of social circulation has moved a large number of people from the bottom up to the tops of society. Gebbon, Archbishop of Reims, was in the past a slave. Pope Gregory VII is the son of a carpenter. P. Sorokin studied the biographies of 144 Roman Catholic popes and found that 28 came from below, and 27 from the middle layers. Institute of celibacy (celibacy), introduced in the XI century. Pope Gregory VII, obliged the Catholic clergy not to have children. Thanks to this, after the death of officials, the freed positions were filled with new people.

In addition to the ascending, the church was a channel of descending movement. Thousands of heretics, pagans, enemies of the church were put on trial, ruined and destroyed. Among them there were many kings, dukes, princes, lords, aristocrats and noblemen of high ranks.

School. The institutions of education and upbringing, no matter what form they acquire, have served as a powerful channel for social circulation throughout the centuries. The United States and the USSR belong to societies where schools are accessible to all its members. In such a society, the social elevator moves from the very bottom, passes through all floors and reaches the very top.

The USA and the USSR are the most vivid example of how to achieve impressive successes, to become great industrial powers of the world, adhering to opposite political and ideological values, but equally providing equal opportunities for citizens to receive education.

Britain represents another pole, in which privileged schools are accessible only to the upper strata of the population. The social elevator is short - it moves only on the upper floors of the social building.

Sociological Workshop

How can a school or university function as a social elevator? Give a few examples from the surrounding life.

Long elevator example represents ancient China. In the era of Confucius, schools were open to all classes. Exams were held every three years. The best students, regardless of their family status, were selected and transferred to higher schools, and then to universities, from where they got to high government posts. Under the influence of Confucius, the government of the mandarins was known by the government of Chinese intellectuals, exalted thanks to the school "mechanism". The educational test played the role of universal suffrage.

Thus, the Chinese school constantly elevated ordinary people and prevented the advancement of representatives of the upper strata, if they did not meet the requirements. As a result, the duties in the government were carried out as it should, and the posts were done on the basis of personal talents.

Large contests for colleges and universities in many countries are explained by the fact that education is the fastest and most accessible channel of vertical mobility.

Property most clearly manifests itself in the form of accumulated wealth and money. They are one of the simplest and most effective ways of social progress. In the XV-XVIII centuries. European society began to rule money. Only those who had money, not noble origins, reached a high position. The last periods of the history of Ancient Greece and Rome were the same.

P. Sorokin found that not all, but only a few classes and professions contribute to the accumulation of wealth. According to his calculations, in 29% of cases it allows to do the occupation of the manufacturer, in 21% - the banker and the trader, in 12% - the trader. The professions of artists, artists, inventors, statesmen, miners and some others do not provide such opportunities.

Family and marriage become channels of vertical circulation in the event that representatives of different social statuses join the union. In European society, the marriage of the poor was widespread, according to a titled partner with a rich but not distinguished one. As a result, both moved along the social ladder, getting what everyone wanted.

An example of descending mobility we find in Antiquity. Under Roman law, a free woman who married a slave herself became a slave and lost the status of a free citizen.

Even primitive societies were interested in being ruled by the most gifted. But how to discover innate talents, if there are no special methods and techniques? The ancients found a very simple way. Through empirical observation, they found that intelligent parents often have smart children, and vice versa. The thesis of the inheritance of the qualities of parents firmly established in the minds of our ancestors. It is he who underlies the prohibition of inter-caste marriages. The lower the social position, the fewer virtues parents have and inherit their children. And vice versa. So gradually emerged the institution of inheritance of social status of parents by children - born in a family with a high social rank deserves a high rank.

The family has become the main mechanism of social selection, definition and inheritance of social status. The origin of a noble family guarantees a good heredity and a decent education is not automatic at all. Parents cared about the best education of children, this became an obligatory norm for the aristocracy. In poor families, parents could not give proper education and upbringing. Every society needs guarantees. They could have been given by noble families. Of these, the management elite was recruited. The family has become one of the institutions of distribution of members of society on strata.

Sociological Workshop

And in your family, how do parents care about the best education of children? Tell us about it.

Ancient societies cared more for the stability of the family, for it is for them simultaneously a school, a vocational training center, and a production association, and much more. When the family began to lose its meaning, the halo of holiness, marriages disintegrated easily, and divorce turned into an everyday event, society had to take on all these functions. There were schools outside the family, production outside the family, service outside the family.

Children stay in the family only while they are underage. In fact, they grow outside the family. The value of blood purity, inherited qualities has lost its value. People are increasingly beginning to evaluate not by their family origin, but by personal qualities.

In addition to the above, the channels of vertical circulation are political parties and professional groups.

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