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Unformatted text preview: Challenges to Upward Mobility in the American Economy Mobility in the American Economy Men have long dreamed of an egalitarian society, a society in which all members are equal. In such a society men will no longer be ranked in terms of prestige, states, wealth and power. Clearly the egalitarian society remains a dream. All human societies from the simplest to the most complex have some form of social inequality. In particular, power and prestige are unequally distributed between individual and social groups. Social stratification Social stratification is a particular form of social inequality. It refers to the presence of social groups which are ranked one above the other, usually in terms of the amount of power, prestige and wealth their members possess. Those who belong to a particular group will have some awareness of common interests and a common identity. They will share a similar life style which to some degree will distinguish them from members of other social strata. Social Mobility in Capitalist Society It is generally agreed that the rate of social mobility V the amount of movement from one stratum to another V is significantly higher in Capitalist Society such as U.S.A. and H.K.. In H.K., this can be exemplified by the emergence of a large stratum of middle class families after the 80s. This middle class sector was seen to move upward on the social ladder and achieved their status on the basis of talent, ability and hard working rather than ascribed from their class of origin. Although in recent years, due to the northwards movement of the manufacturing and services industry, some people have suggested that routine white V collar workers are undergoing a process of proletarianization. But, generally speaking, our society can be regarded as open, as having a relatively low degree of closure. Sociologists have identified two main types of social mobility. The first, intragenerational mobility, refers to social mobility within a single generation. The second type, intergenerational mobility, refers to social mobility between generations. The significance of social mobility The study of social mobility is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, the rate of social mobility may have an important effect on class formation. If the rate of social mobility is low, class solidarity and cohesion will be high and distinctive class sub-cultures and strong class identifications will tend to develop. Secondly, a study of social mobility can provide an indication of the life chances of members of society. Thirdly, it is important to know how people respond to the experience of social mobility. For example, do the downwardly mobile resent their misfortune and form a pool of dissatisfaction which might threaten the stability of society. Apart from the above, it is also important to know the factors which influence an individuals chances to move upward in the class system. Upward mobility Although there are many ways for lower-class people can upwardly mobile to higher-class such as gambling, stocks and or property investment, education is the one which provide a constant and effective upward mobility channel for most people in society. The practical value of education is tested by its effects on occupational status and income. The future career prospects and social status of an individual are significantly affected by the quality and quantity of the educational opportunities available. Some children of lower origins are upwardly mobile by virtue of the availability of schooling, persistence and success in school, and entry into some higher-status occupation to which their education admits them. Men are judged more by the universal criteria of credentials, scholastic achievement, and technical competence. The educational ladder clearly leads to higher-paid occupationally, upper social statuses, and prestigious styles of life. Functions of education Education is person-centred and society-centred. It can provide the diversity of knowledge and the acquirement of skills that offers the individual a role of dignity and satisfying work achievement in the community. Because, potentially, it provides individuals with more equal opportunities, more preparedness for job mobility and greater capacities for using their talents. Education is a powerful aid to economic development and producing skills essential to the establishment of a modernized society. It functions are as follows: Personal development Education communicates skills and perspectives that cannot readily be gained in other social settings. The school is often a place of learning dependency, self-control and restraint, personal growth and well-being. Cultural transmission Formal education is especially relied on in societies that are culturally self-conscious. While cultural transmission tends to emphasize respect for tradition, values of criticism and inquiry may be passed on as well as conservative values. In the past, education in Hong Kong explicitly banned all political activities in school.Government actively to make use of education as a means for maintaining and reinforcing a culture of political apathy. Because the sovereignty of Hong Kong to the PRC, political education was deemed to realizing the ideal of Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong a certain extent politicized school subjects such as liberal studies and ethics studies are included in public examination. There was also increased emphasis on the understanding and appreciation of studentss Chinese cultural heritage and the political processes and the history of the PRC. Social integration Formal education is a major agency for transforming a heterogeneous and potentially divided community into one bound together by a common language and a sense of common identity. The rise of national states in Europe, for example, was aided by the creation of systems of public education. In some cases the effort to achieve a culturally homogeneous community has turned education into a system of coercive assimilation. Selection and allocation Under mass education, the school system takes over the job of screening and allocating. How the individual performs in school, how far he pursues his education, and the course of study he chooses often determine his future occupation, income, and prestige. The school becomes the central mechanism for facilitating social mobility. The education system of Hong Kong has been largely shaped by the meritocracy and family values in Chinese culture, different forms of elitism, and the pragmatism of the state bureaucracy. The introduction of nine years of compulsory education in 1978 turned secondary education into a mass education. The Secondary School Places Allocation System (SSPA), a system in which school place allocations are based on internal assessments of schools and Academic Aptitude Test (AAT) results. Under SSPA, primary school graduates can only be allocated to schools in their catchment areas. Prestigious schools are densely located in certain areas, such as mid levels on Hong Kong Island. Well-off families can afford to move to these areas so as to increase the chances of their children getting into desirable secondary schools. The expansion of tertiary education by the government as to binding able young people to Hong Kong by offering them extended opportunities for higher education. Innovation In modern society, innovation has become increasingly institutionalized, and centers of learning are expected to contribute new ideas and new technology. New forms of organization emerge-notably research institutes. The allocation and selection mechanisms in the education system determine the opportunities of an individuals future career prospects and social status. ...
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- Fall '07