occupational mobility

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occupational mobility Often wrongly called social mobility. It refers to the movement of an occupational group itself, or of an individual member of an occupation, or of an occupational vacancy, through the stratification system of social space. Studies of the Hindu caste system illustrate the first; father-son occupational achievement the second; and Harrison White's study of clergy vacancy-chains the third.

Most studies assume a unidimensional scaling or gradation of occupations in terms of their prestige or status against which movement is then assessed. Thus, ‘downward’ mobility refers to loss, and ‘upward’ mobility to increase in occupational prestige. An important distinction is to be drawn between within or intra-generational mobility (for example career patterns) and between intergenerational mobility (for example caste mobility or father-son achievement). Following classic studies in the United States and Europe, many national studies now exist of status achievement of children (especially sons) from their parental origins, symbolized by the Father-Son Turnover Table, which indicates the occupational destination of the offspring of parents in a given occupational category, and conversely, the parental occupational origins of children now in a given category. The analysis of this table forms the core of many conventional studies of occupational mobility, but structural models, which interrelate the complex network of dependence of variables affecting achievement, are now the preferred form of analysis. See also STATUS ATTAINMENT.

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mobility, occupational See OCCUPATIONAL MOBILITY.