Social Mobility and Stratification

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In America, common belief is that one born with nothing can work hard to gain anything, when this is clearly not the case. People accept meager wages and conditions with the idea that it is simply a stepping-stone to better things. What causes some people to view their disadvantages as being positive? The newspaper, “The Economist”, believes that the success of minority figures such as Obama define a high degree social mobility in American culture. Many are not improving from their parent’s positions, and few maintain it if not falling below. There are several factors including income inequality, family background and lack of opportunity for mobility that contribute to this decline. What are the disadvantages will we suffer as Americans you ask? I will outline the trends and evidence to support the decline and future effects as it continues.

The apparent decline in social mobility is contrary to what most Americans believe to be the “Land of Opportunity”. As much as we would like to believe that everyone has the same opportunities to advance, this is simply not true. Stories tell of people who far exceeded what any normal person could hope to achieve realistically, something far beyond their means. While it is certainly possible for someone to exceed his or her social class, it is simply more complicated than winning the lottery or a stroke of luck. Wealth and education both are heavy factors of determining a person’s ability to move up or down the latter of class, with some regards to family background and disadvantage. This also applies to an individual’s opportunity to attend college due to their social circumstance and financial responsibilities.

According to the “Nation Center of Education Statistics,” Sixty-six per...

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...he government and other power figures are responsible; the average cost of tuition fees and room and board has risen fourfold since 1977 to an average of $10,315 according to “”, which is devastatingly unnecessary. Americans must learn to be aware of these inequalities and not settle for the low end of stick, only then can we believe the American dream.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2007-08 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:08). (Prepared August 2009.)

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2009). 2007–08 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:08) Student Financial Aid Estimates for 2007–08, Table 1-4

Education Pays. (2011, May). In Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from

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