Observing Social Mobility in the Making

Special Report
Micro-Contexts, Lived Experiences, and Sociopolitical Effects
By Julie Pagis, Paul Pasquali

This introductory article explains the principles and challenges of a sociology concerned with observing social mobility in the making. It aims to contribute to the renewal of a classic field of research that remains largely confined to statistical approaches focused on measuring “social fluidity”. Emphasizing the contributions of a longitudinal ethnography of trajectories and experiences of social shifts, it argues for the need for more reflexive uses of statistical and analytical categories commonly used to study social mobility. A cross-reading of the articles collected in this issue then sheds light on the diversity of paths along which social mobilities take place. The analysis of ascending mobility that is not based (or little) on schooling sheds a new light on the best known works on the subject. Finally, the issue of social mobility’s political effects is examined. The analyses gathered here nuance or complexify a number of earlier results, especially concerning the partisan preferences of upwardly mobile individuals.

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