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The Formal Theory of Social Mobility

S. J. Prais
Population Studies
Vol. 9, No. 1 (Jul., 1955), pp. 72-81
DOI: 10.2307/2172343
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2172343
Page Count: 10
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The Formal Theory of Social Mobility
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Abstract

By regarding social mobility as a process taking place in time it is shown how existing studies on the recruitment of the social classes can yield measures of the average number of generations spent by a family in each class, and of the average number of generations that elapse before it returns to its class. The method is applied to certain data recently published by Glass and others relating to England in 1949. These concepts also form the basis of a normative theory which attempts to measure the discrepancy between any actual society and a corresponding idealised society in which there is perfect mobility. The main empirical conclusion to emerge is that it is the upper social class in which the effects of immobility are most marked.

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