Upward and downward mobility, meritocracy | Social Inequality | MCAT | Khan Academy

Upward and downward mobility, meritocracy | Social Inequality | MCAT | Khan Academy


– [Voiceover] So, in our society we have quite a number of ways in which we tend to break down society into different layers, different social layers, and one of the ways that we do that is to break up society
into different classes. So, we can break society
up into the Lower Class, which basically consists
of a lot of people who do a lot of manual work, laborious work, often low-pay jobs. And then we have what’s
called the Middle Class, so these are better paying jobs often involving a lot of professionals. And right at the top we
have the Upper Class, so these tend to be very
wealthy businessmen, heads of industry, people with a lot of family wealth and that occupy very prominent positions, and these are called the Upper Class. And one of the things that we know is that your different class
position often correlates to the amount of income that you get from your job. So, I guess one of the
things that we think about when we think about these
different social positions is that can we actually have movement. So, can an individual
actually move around? And the answer is “yes”. An individual can in fact move around these different social positions, and there’s various ways
an individual can move. The first way I want to mention is an individual can move horizontally. That’s to say, an individual
can move within the same class. So, take our gentleman with
the blue hair in the middle. So, if he works as an accountant in one accounting company, if he switches job to a
different accounting company, but he stays at the same level, he’s essentially experiencing
horizontal movement. That’s to say that he’s
not either going up in terms of social positioning, and he’s not going down in
terms of social positioning. However, you could experience something called vertical movement, which is either a move up or a move down the social hierarchy. And example of this would be if he was, for example, a manager at a restaurant, and should he get a promotion and then become the CEO
of a fast food restaurant, then he would then fast move into a higher sphere. However, should he get a demotion, should he experience troubles at work, and then get bumped down
to just serving food and going on minimum wage, he may actually fall down
from his middle class, reasonably well paid job, into the lower working class, and in that case he would experience downward social movement, downward social mobility. So, as we could see as we
discussed social mobility, we can have horizontal movement and vertical movement as
we have described here. There are various different types of social constructs that allow for different levels of social mobility. Historically, some societies have had what’s been called the caste system. And in the caste system there has been very, very, very little Social Mobility. And you may ask why. Because in a caste system your role in life is really determined almost entirely by your background, essentially to what position you’re born, and to who you are married to. So if we look at the hierarchy, first the caste hierarchy, you’re really limited to the social group to which you’re born. regardless of your actual
aptitude and achievements. What that does often provide is a large amount of social stability, because the social structures
often do not change. People’s social position doesn’t change throughout their life, so they remain in the
same social situation with the same social network. The most common historic
example of the caste system was the Hindu caste system, which was historically outlawed, but some say it’s still practiced to some degree informally today. Secondly, we go on to what’s
called the class system. And this tends to operate
in many countries today, where we have the Upper Class, the Middle Class, and the Lower Class. And the class system is a step
away from the caste system because it allows for a
degree of social mobility. It is in fact a combination
of a person’s background alongside their ability. It recognizes somebody’s ability in terms of allowing them to go up or even down the social ladder. But what that actually results in that results in less social stability compared to the caste system. People can really change their social positioning
throughout their life, often by means of education for example. Now finally, I want to raise a rather idealized concept
of the meritocracy. And what a meritocracy is is a concept that people
achieve their social position based on their ability and achievements, and solely based on their
ability and achievements. So, in a meritocracy someone’s position is
not really determined by their place of birth, their parental background. So, this is a highly idealized state that isn’t really operating
anywhere in the world. Some people say the United States may be turned to meritocracy, but in an ideal meritocracy what we have is actually
extreme social mobility. People are continuously going up and down depending on their most recent level of performance and achievement. So, really now instead of background, we’re basically purely focused on ability and their achievement. As you can imagine, there may not be as much social stability because their relative kind of the background organization
of families and social groups may be much less stable
than the caste system and the class system and the purest form or meritocracy. So, as we can see here, in a meritocracy we
have the greatest degree of upward and downward social mobility compared to the caste and class system.

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6 thoughts on “Upward and downward mobility, meritocracy | Social Inequality | MCAT | Khan Academy”

  • I have seen the Meritocratic system described more like the Roundtable model, where everyone adds and gains knowledge and skills from the whole community. Because its a team effort, it respects differences dialectically, requiring all to thrive (with rational ends) if the whole is to survive. We are all critically aware that we must be patient and nurturing of all our People wildlife and environment. It's like nurturing the tree of life, through its cycles.
    I also know that the Meritocracy objective is to lift All from that lower rank to the highest. To the point where the ladder is no longer relevant. All to become Gods, providing the platform for equal opportunity for all of Us. My aim is to remove that status ladder illusion.
    We are all here for a reason, not otherwise. All have the right to enlightenment and can find it within.
    I'm also all for free education so everyone can become what they're truly meant to be… Our true selves, our full potential, however long it takes. If only internet and access to was free and in abundance. All in good time.

  • China has a type of meritocracy. If you do well on your college entrance exams, you get to be educated for a higher paying job.

  • The caste system is not right.

    Social mobility is better when you move up in society. Why would the world move someone down, society.?

    Realizing that ‘why’ is a person or thing?