Top Ten Management on Social Mobility: An Overview of How Possible It is to Go From Rags to Riches Today


Social Mobility has been an issue since the birth of the economy. If someone was not born a pharaoh, chances are they could never work their way to becoming one. That is not the story of the economic behavior of 2010. Social mobility is the way to many achievements. It can make someone the CEO of a company or it can make them the leader of their family through the efforts to change the norm of how they were raised. This article states why the top ten factors social mobility can potentially bring you from rags to riches or riches to rags. It contains the status of social mobility in different countries and how it effects that particular business environment.  Over all, it shows the relationship between a person’s social lifestyle and the economy it creates.

The Idea in a Nutshell

             Social mobility refers to the extent in which individuals can move out of the strata into which they are born. It has been an issue since the first population of humans. In whatever role a person played in their society it pre-determined the role of their off spring. This is called the caste system. As time went on people started to break free of their “roots”, causing a shift in their social activity and how they relate to people they were once surrounded by. Today it is important because it affects the way some countries perform on the business level.  It can positively affect the countries level or production, or hold it back. Studying a social class can tell you a lot about the person’s level of education, family habits, and culture.

The Top Ten Things You Need to Know About Social Mobility

1.            Education plays a significant part in being socially mobile: It is known that most college graduates of I.V. league schools go on to pursue jobs in places like fortune 500 companies and the like. This seems to add to the stigma of “the rich are getting rich.” This only hold true because “the rich’s” son/daughter is getting smarter. Without education people do not know the methods and strategy to maintain a healthy economy. 

2.            Social Mobility Costs:  Lack of social mobility brings down the GDP of a country with the loss of wasted talent due to un education. “Failing to improve low levels of social mobility will cost the UK economy up to £140 billion a year by 2050”. (” £140 billion,” 2010)

3.            China is one of the least socially mobile places in the world: This is true because of a communistic rule that restricted most Chinese to the place of their birth in the 1970s. Once this set of rules was abolished it drove many Chinese peasants into the city hence causing a divide between urban and rural occupations. (Xin Meng=g, 2010)

4.            India is still under the caste system: Social mobility is hugely affected by the fact that India is still under a caste system. India has a low rural migration rate, which decreases opportunity for economic success because they are in essence “stuck” in the area in which they are from. Another reason the caste system affects social mobility is due to the fact that many Indians are Hindu’s. It is a Hindu belief to not marry outside your own caste system. If someone were to marry-out of their caste system they are shunned from their society. This makes it extremely difficult to prosper outside of an unfamiliar un connected territory.  (Kaivan Munshi, & Mark Rosenzweig, 2005)

5.              Horizontal Social Mobility: Horizontal mobility is staying within the boundaries of your own social class. If a person is to switch occupations then they have changed position in their class but not necessarily their level of class.

6.            Vertical Social Mobility:  Vertical mobility refers to moving up into a higher social class than born into, or moving down to a lower one. Winning the lottery would be the ultimate boost of a higher social class. In turn, gambling all of your wealth at the casino would be the ultimate decay to a low social class.

7.            Social Mobility Inheritance:  In some cases it is a pure competitive advantage to be born into a successful occupation. However not all people take advantage of this birth right. Just as one can move upwards from their initial strata it’s vice versa with moving downwards. The C.E.O’s son does not necessarily get to run the company when he reaches a certain age. Although, he does have a “shoe-in” compared to someone in a lower social class. It is also possible that he will degrade to a low social class because of his lack of effort. In other cases the family business could be left to the children in which they would take on the same class as their parents.

8.            Social Mobility Turmoil:  A society that has no elasticity to social mobility increase costs in the companies that hire different social classes. It can cause a high level of industrial disruption due to lack of cooperation between the management and labor classes. (Charles Hill, 2007)

9.            The end of the American Dream: Studies show that the present generation is not as profitable with income as it used to be back in 1974. It suggests that the working class today makes less than what their parents used to bring in. This statistic shows that American isn’t quite the land of milk and honey as it so often is perceived. (Kevin Drum, 2007)

10.             The Potential associate with Social Mobility: Social mobility, as it relates to sociology, will always be an issue. It is not uncommon to move from social class within a lifetime. There is potential to fall in addition to potential to rise. The deal is that it is up to the individual and the particular situation they find themselves in that determines which way they would like to go.

The Video Lounge

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My Take

My take on Social Mobility is that it is an important factor that will remain until the end of time.  As Marketing major it is important for me to know how social mobility affects the market. Some social classes can afford a product I’m trying to sell and some classes it may be beyond their means to purchase the product. As a manager looking for an employee to promote I would consider their social class and their willingness to move upward or downward. As an employer I would look for the individual that is willing to help themselves as I would help them back. I think it is possible to go from rags to riches if there is a will to succeed. I believe there are many people in hot pursuit of a different social class and will stop at nothing to get there. I also think that the change in social class can stand for a lifelong accomplishment that represents hard work and humility.


£140 billion a year – the cost of low social mobility . (2010). The Sutton Trust,              Retrieved from year-the-cost-of-low-social-mobility/

Charles Hill, CH. (2007). International buisness. New York: The McGraw-Hill        


Kaivan Munshi, KM, & Mark Rosenzweig, MR. (2005). Why is Mobility in india so

low?. [Web]. Retrieved from

Kevin Drum, KD. (2007, May 25). The End of the dream. The Washington Monthly,               Retrieved from                               0.php

Xin Ment=g, XM. (2010). Intergenerational Income Mobility in Urban China.               Retrieved (2010, September 8) from    


Contact Info: To contact the author of “Top Ten Management on Social Mobility: An Overview of How Possible It is to Go from Rags to Riches Today,” please email Diana Johnson at


David C. Wyld ( is the Robert Maurin Professor of Management at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. He is a management consultant, researcher/writer, and executive educator. His blog, Wyld About Business, can be viewed at He also serves as the Director of the Reverse Auction Research Center (, a hub of research and news in the expanding world of competitive bidding. Dr. Wyld also maintains compilations of works he has helped his students to turn into editorially-reviewed publications at the following sites: