Social and Cultural Mobility

Social and Cultural Mobility

Social and Cultural Mobility

Social and Cultural Mobility

Excerpt

EXPRESSIONS like "upper and lower classes," "social promotion," "N. N. is a climber," "his social position is very high," "they are very near socially," "right and left party," "there is a great social distance," and so on, are quite commonly used in conversation, as well as in economic, political, and sociological works. All these expressions indicate that there is something which could be styled "social space." And yet there are very few attempts to define social space and to deal with corresponding conceptions systematically. As far as I know, after Descartes, Thomas Hobbes, Leibnitz, E. Weigel and other great thinkers of the seventeenth century only F. Ratzel, G. Simmel, and recently E. Durkheim, Robert E. Park, Emory S. Bogardus, Leopold von Wiese, and the writer have tried to give greater attention to the problem of social space and to some others connected with it.

As the subject of this book is social mobility--that is, the phenomenon of the shifting of individuals within social space--it is very concisely what I mean by social space and its derivatives. In the first place, social space is something quite different from geometrical space . Persons near each other in geometrical space-- e.g. , a king and his servant, a master and his slave--are often separated by the greatest distance in social space. And, vice versa , persons who are very far from each other in geometrical space-- e.g. , two brothers, or bishops of the same religion, or generals of the same rank in the same army, some staying in America, others being in China--may be very near each other in social space. Their social position is often identical, in spite of the great geometrical distance which separates them from each other. A man may cross thousands of miles of geometrical . . .

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