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To what extent has social mobility become more common in Britain during the last fifty years?

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Introduction

To what extent has social mobility become more common 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 society people are divided into two social classes. They believe that membership of these classes was determined by economic factors: the ownership or non-ownership of property. Their two classes are the bourgeoisie the ruling class; they were the owners of wealth and property, and the proletariat; the working class who worked as labourers for the bourgeoisie. ...read more.

Middle

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 discriminate people because of their sex. This is because of legal changes like the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Sex Discrimination Act introduced in 1975. Ethnic minorities also used to face discrimination by employers. ...read more.

Conclusion

Luck, such as a lottery win or an inheritance can also lead to mobility in terms of lifestyle. These factors suggest that it has become easier to move up the " social ladder". I would like to agree with the Functionalists view of society. That society has become "open" and allows mobility between classes, ensuring that the most talented and dedicated individuals are given the opportunity to reach the top, to perform the roles that are vital for society. However I do not feel that this extent of social mobility has been achieved yet in society. I feel that since the 1950s the pattern of social mobility has shown a general upward movement, where it is not uncommon for people of working-class backgrounds, women, or ethnic minorities to enter professional and managerial jobs. I think that the division between working and middle class is becoming blurred and more fragmented. However, I also feel that at the other end of the spectrum there is becoming an increasingly bigger gap between the middle and upper class. Kathrina Crystallis 10J 1 1 ...read more.

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