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Social Mobility In The United States

2262 words - 9 pages

Does social mobility in our contemporary American society really exist? Is it possible for someone from the deepest depths of poverty to become successful, and ascend into the upper echelons of society? Could the American Dream still be attained in these times where we see the stratification of contemporary American society based on their wealth and social class so vehemently pointed out and perhaps emphasized to a certain degree? Or perhaps, could Charles Sackrey, Geoffrey Schneider, and Janet Knoedler (authors of Introduction to Political Economy) be right about the American Dream being a "particularly deceitful myth?" This is a topic which has been debated over a long period of time between different scholars, analysts, and people just like us - in American society today, it could be broken into many parts: some observe the rich, the middle class, and the poor, and others lean towards the 99% versus the 1%, in regards to debates stemming from wealth distribution. The American Dream, a long-standing national ethos which definitively puts forward the idea that our freedom allows us the opportunity for great prosperity and success, as well as upward social mobility through the application of hard work, is perhaps central to this idea of whether social mobility, as scholars continue to debate that it is less attainable in this day and age compared to previous generations, and that it is much less prevalent in the U.S. than in other western countries. As for social mobility, it's also argued that while it exists to a greater extent in other western countries, it is no less attainable in the United States today than it was in the past. The purpose of this essay is to really get a good look at both sides of the coin in terms of this issue, take note of the arguments which have been broadcasted, and weigh in with my own perspective on the matter.

Starting with those who agree with the sentiment that social mobility does indeed exist in contemporary American society, we turn to sources from both The Economist and The New Yorker. In the latter, John Cassidy thinks that social mobility hasn't exactly fallen, and that talks of the American Dream being a "particularly deceitful myth" have been greatly exaggerated. He opens by noting a new study revealed in January 2014 which has shown that social mobility in the United States has stayed constant over the past few decades - he deems it as not so surprising, re-iterating part of a speech by President Barack Obama which notes that previous academic studies "failed to consistently identify any trend" (Cassidy, NewYorker.com). Furthermore, the most influential paper on the subject was published in 2006, and their conclusion was that "intergenerational income mobility in the United States has not changed dramatically over the past two decades." The new study uses a larger set of individuals to grab their data from, and also is perhaps the most recent - they state that "intergenerational mobility is fairly...

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