Social mobility could be defined as the variations in the societal status arising from the parents’ to the offspring’s generation. These variations could be in terms of education (higher or low education), religion (religious affiliation), income (economic capital), occupation (due to professional skills and more effort in one’s career), area of residence, consumption patterns and political participation.
Most of these are dependent on an individual’s economic status. In modern America, other issues like the wellbeing, level of education and the make of the car one drives influence an individual’s status in the community. Area of residence is also vital in determining a person’s social stratum in some societies.
The aim of this paper is to point out and compare the differences in regard to given stratification variables between myself, my parent’s and my grandparent’s.
Types of schools, Cognitive ability and Students and teacher’s attitude are among the major aspects that bring intergenerational changes in social strata according to a paper posted on the web of the University of Nipissing (Darmon and Drewnowski, 2008). The paper asserts that learned parents influence their children’s education by e.g. helping with homework, and with assignments. This is reflected in my case where though both my parents and I were college educated, there is a pronounced difference in our respective social status
My parents were Catholics while I am a Baptist. One may wonder what role religion plays in social classification in modern America. Religion complicates matters worse when added to other factors that influence societal stratification according to Mitchem (2005). He in fact mentions that religion and social class overlap.
Catholics are viewed in America as being conservative and has ensnared old folks whereas the younger generation is lured into more dynamic churches like the Baptist which for a very long time has been in conflict with the Catholic Church. Those in the Catholic Church are rated lower in the social stratum. It therefore appeared more fashionable for me to belong to a protestant church than being a Catholic where I was brought up.
Occupation, Income and area of residence
The occupation of my parents forced them to live in poverty, they were both service people where they got a partly salary that could not afford them a luxurious living. My career as a social worker has put me in the middle class a step higher than my poor parents’. I consequently can afford a better living in the city of New Jersey whereas my parents lived in Virginia.
Our economic status influences the eating habits of the people. This factor of social ladder also depends on habits passed down to us by our parents. It also results from awareness and regulations. Both my parents and I consumed healthy foods. This shows that my parents were aware of the importance of healthy living and so introduced to me the importance of eating healthy at an early age which I follow to date. Darmon and Drewnowski (2008), points out that the quality of the food taken depends on the socio-economic incline.
Superior diets are consumed by the rich while low quality foods are taken by the poor. This finding contrasts my case because though my parents were poor, they still could afford healthy foods probably because they put too much emphasis on healthy living and therefore allocated a huge chunk of their income into buying health foods which are costly at the expense of other needs.
In his book on ‘sociological forum’, Beeghley (1986) points out that the poor are always limited to the lowest categories in political participation. Both my parents and I were democrats and though it is expected that my choice of a political party would change, that is not the case here because with a rise in social status, only one’s level of political participation changes. It is therefore evident that my rise to a higher standard of living did not affect my political participation
Social mobility could either be downward or upward. These changes are brought about by a rise or a fall from a given social class. It has also been shown that some factors of social mobility do not respond to changes in the standards of living e.g. political participation. Economic consideration has been cited as affecting the type of food consumed and is in turn influenced by occupation and level of income.
Darmon, N., and Drewnowski, A. (2008). Does social class predict diet quality? American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2008, Vol. 87, No. 5, 1107-1117.
Beeghley, L. (1986). Social and political participation. Retrieved October 26, 2010 from
Mitchem, Y. S. (2005). Social Class and Religion. Retrieved October 26, 2010 from