Social mobility is the ability of a person or group to move between different strata or classes in an open social system. A social system is defined as open or closed depending on the importance that is given to a person’s achieved status in the specific society.
Where the Indian caste system only takes into account the family a person is born into to define his or her social class, today’s world is now leaning towards a more economical way of defining classes where a person’s class is defined solely by their economic standing. As a result, where the caste system is rigid, a person can much easily move between social layers in the economic system of defining classes.
So, the economic system is an open system where social mobility is a possibility. As such it has become much easier to gain a more favorable class or at the same time lose a favorable place in the social ladder.
Social mobility has recently become a very important feature in the humanitarian movement as it provides pathways to obtain equality in a much faster and peaceful manner, especially in societies with high social inequalities.
Social mobility in any society is defined by its people’s occupations, their education and the overall acceptance towards an open social structure. However, major inequalities in wealth distribution and a prophetic belief in social hierarchy are very imminent threats to a wider spread of social mobility, with the elites taking on a conservative stance on this change, and certain religions and societies completely shunning any attempt at the same.
Commonly known examples can be Islam and China creating totalitarian laws to ensure the prevalence of currently existing social structures by punishing all other ideologies.