The comparison within one family usually implies the vertical mobility, though the horizontal is indeed not excluded. The differences might sometimes be striking. Modern “globalization” society develops at a much higher speed and provides much more opportunities and options to individuals.
These changes make the changes of stratification variables impressively outstanding. At the same time, in the last several decades the society has faced numerous breakdowns and evolutionary changes that now define the possibility of an individual to cross the strata and move vertically to other social position to another. There are multiple opportunities, but there are also numerous obstacles to them. The analysis of changes of an individual’s life in various stratification variables (education, religion, and income, and occupation, area of residence, consumption patterns, and political participation) compared to his or her relatives, friends or other social groups, enables to determine the level of this individual’s social mobility, which can be horizontal and vertical (the latter is either upward or downward).
My grandparents were born before the baby boom and thus were lucky enough to have obtained proper education and good jobs before the market flooded with numerous specialists from the baby-boomer generation. They were comparatively well-off and fitted into the given circumstances.
When my parents were born, they received an accepted elementary and secondary education, and then in technical and literal fields. When the time arrived, they had to choose what career to pursue.
My father was an engineer, and he found a job in a construction company. My mother began her career as an assistant to a sales company. She then had an opportunity to become a sales manager but, in the end, decided to become a housewife and a good mother. By that time I was born.
By the present time, I can not claim my social mobility regarding education was astonishing. The only vertical movement in this stratification variable is the level of education I am planning to achieve. After graduating from the university and obtaining a degree of Bachelor Administration in Business Management, I would like to continue my education and receive an MBA degree.
My future occupation is the aviation engine mechanic, but that is not the end of the planned career. I intend to climb the career ladder and pursue the opportunities in the field of aviation management. The education stratification variable has experienced substantial changes in the recent decades.
Nowadays more and more opportunities are available to those, who have a desire and a talent to grow professionally. Companies are willing to pay for the talented employees and to bring up managers of the higher level. The levels of income have also become higher in comparison to my parents and grandparents. Now, an excellent part-time job will generate more than my relatives used to earn per day. The problem is that the prices and expenditure/consumption levels have also increased substantially. Thus, in this case, vertical mobility is doubtful.
As for the consumption patterns, they, too have changed. Now we spend even more on food and entertainment, but a more significant part of income spent on the latest technological achievements.
One cannot help the consumerism trends in the American society. All marketing methods used by numerous companies are targeting our pockets. Those, who try to be up-to-date, can hardly imagine their life without digital phones, cameras, computers, palms, “hands-free,” Bluetooth, house appliances, computers, internet-based services and much more. And of course, when I was a kid I was curious about all the innovations but did not treat them as a “must-have.” My parents had no idea such things would consume their son’s income back in the late 70’s when I was born.
The same statement holds true for my grandparents, who mostly spent money on global “lifetime” purchases like the house, automobile, refrigerator, etc. In this stratification variable, next generations are upwardly mobile, because they have more opportunities to choose from and new technologies to implement and make like easier.
Sometimes I think that the change in attitudes towards new technologies and products offered by vast modern market had greatly influenced my attitudes towards my grandparents. When I was younger, I believed they were too old-fashioned because they had no idea of new things that appeared in the world. Now, the speed of innovations is high enough to make almost everyone seem “old-fashioned.”
My political participation, as well as the area of residence, differs neither from that of my parents nor my grandparents). One can not say we are politically ambivalent, but political activity is not what my family would go into, taking into consideration given circumstances. They would preferably manager their local “country,” which is their family and take care of themselves and the relatives. I certainly can not deny I may one day change my attitude and take part in political processes, but that would be possible only in case of further vertical social mobility. I will have to have a good education, a decent career, high level of income and many other conditions to follow to become politically mobile. By now, I am more interested in obtaining higher education and finding a good challenging and rewarding job.
I believe that the changes in attitudes I had experienced were caused by my participation in various social groups and the individuals I had met along the way – my friends, other students, colleagues, etc. Of course, the changes in society are also worth mentioning. Humans are now greatly influenced by media, and other sources of information, political, economic and social upheavals, etc. The latter three were, undoubtedly, affecting all the previous generations, but globalization had made new changes much more noticeable and influential.
It is difficult to determine the level of mobility (both upward and downward) because things seem more different than they are in reality. What appears to be a significant step ahead is sometimes only a half-step forward. I believe every generation makes a step ahead, but only time will show how far we have reached. My parents think their children should be better than they are, but I still have a lot to do for that wish to come true.
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