Social Structure and Mobility in Economic Development

By Neil J. Smelser; Seymour Martin Lipset | Go to book overview

10
PSYCHOLOGICAL ORIGINS OF MOBILITY*

HARRY J. CROCKETT, JR., University of North Carolina

EMPIRICAL STUDIES of psychological factors contributing to mobility are rare; studies suggesting the relevance of these factors to mobility, while more frequent, are not abundant.1 This paper will focus on recent treatments of the subject, highlighting works based on empirical data, but noting also relatively recent non-empirical contributions. Because most students of mobility have neglected personality factors, I shall begin by urging the necessity for such concern, going on to discuss alternative conceptions of motivation, and to examine the impact of personal factors in mobility, as alleged in or demonstrated by the literature, in different structural contexts.

The study of mobility in modern societies has been undertaken almost exclusively by sociologists and economists. Inevitably, therefore, social structural and demographic factors -- social class or stratum of origin, region of origin, education, race, age -- have been prominent in analyses of mobility. The major concern of such inquiry has been to describe, and sometimes predict, shifts in occupational or social status distributions within a population. From this admittedly useful point of view, the potential contributions of personality factors to mobility appears irrelevant. Not much "variance" remains to be explained by

____________________
*
Ralph H. Turner's excellent critique of the draft of this paper presented to the Conference enabled me to make a number of changes in this version, and I regret that I have not been able to incorporate more of his discussion in the paper. The extent to which my perspective on the matters under discussion has been shaped, and my understanding of them enhanced by John W. Atkinson is cheerfully and gratefully acknowledged. I also wish to acknowledge the careful criticisms of the earlier draft by Robert L. Carroll, Richard L. Simpson, Neil J. Smelser, Carleton W. Smith, and Mrs. Karen Many.
1
For a thorough review of such research in modern societies through 1958, see Seymour M. Lipset and Reinhard Bendix, Social Mobility in Industrial Society ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1959), pp. 227-259.

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