Tags: class, economic sociology, inequality, absolute mobility, american dream, income mobility, relative mobility, stratification, 00 to 05 mins
Access: Pew Video
Summary: Mobility is a difficult concept to both define and conceptualize because people’s movement up and down the socio-economic ladder must be assessed both in relation to a point of origin, and measured across time. This video from the PEW Economic Mobility Project helps us overcome this difficulty by providing visual animations that depict income mobility. It looks at how absolute mobility (when a person earns more money in inflation-adjusted dollars than their parents did at the same age) and relative mobility (a person's rank within the income distribution as a whole) work—while also highlighting how both types of movement relate to American Individualism. It shows that the US is doing well in absolute mobility, but not relative mobility. When explaining relative mobility, the video highlights “stickiness at the ends” by showing how there is a great deal of movement in the middle classes—but the poor and the wealthy at the top and bottom of the social hierarchy tend to experience little if any movement both within, and across generations. Towards the end, the video uses two escalators to outline an especially difficult premise; the possibility that individuals and families can simultaneously experience upward absolute mobility and downward relative mobility.
Submitted By: Jason T. Eastman
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