Resource 

Recent Trends in Social Mobility (US)

Abstract:

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This activity is designed to teach beginning sociology students about the concepts of social mobility as well as familiarize them with recent trends in social mobility within the United States. The sociological understanding of stratification is dependent upon recognition that systems of stratification are at least partially closed, allowing for only minimal mobility even in social class systems. Students raised in a culture that emphasizes individuality, merit-based success, and rags-to-riches stories can find this difficult to grasp. Using empirical data, this activity can help students to begin to understand the social reproduction of stratification across generations. I typically perform this activity in my Introduction to Sociology course after the students have read the textbook chapter on stratification and inequality. This chapter introduces students to several key terms that are important to fully grasp the activity: social mobility as well as the distinction between intragenerational and intergenerational mobility. One could also lecture on the basics of social mobility before moving in to the activity, although I find the textbook is sufficient. This activity contains two files. The first (“Data Activity Tables (Mobility)” contains three tables that measure social mobility using occupations and wealth. The second (“Data Activity Questions (Mobility)” contains four questions which require students to read and interpret the tables in the corresponding file. I round out this activity through a lecture focused on the findings of some classic studies of social mobility, gender differences, and prospects for future social mobility (see usage notes for more details).

Details:

Resource Type(s):
Class Activity 
Author(s):
Daniel T Buffington, UNC-Wilmington 
Date Published:
11/12/2013 
Subject Area:
Introduction to Sociology/Social Problems 
Class Level:
College 100 
Class Size:
Any 
Language:
English 


Usage Notes:

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This activity takes about 40 minutes to perform. Groups of 2-4 students take about 15 to 20 minutes to complete the questions. Discussing the answers takes another 10 to 15 minutes. At the conclusion of the activity, I begin a lecture focused on the findings of some classic studies of...

Learning Goals and Assessments:

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Goal 1:
[1] Students will learn basic familiarity with tables displaying statistics
Assessment 1:
[1] Students will display basic familiarity with tables by answering questions (1-4) that require locating specific statistics
Goal 2:
[2] Students will learn some of the basic measurements sociologists use to assess social mobility
Assessment 2:
[2] Students will display basic familiarity with some of the measurements sociologists use to assess social mobility by answering a questions (#1-4) that requires interpretation of basic statistical measures of mobility
Goal 3:
[3] Students will learn the trends in social mobility in the US since the 1950s.
Assessment 3:
[3] Students will display an understanding of recent trends in social mobility by using data to characterize contemporary patterns of mobility since 1950.

Files for Download:

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Data Activity Tables (mobility).NEW.rtf
Data Activity Questions (mobility).NEW.NEW.rtf
citation.docx