Social mobility and complexity theory: towards a critique of the sociological mainstream

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Abstract

Social mobility studies reveal remarkable stability as far as relative mobility chances are concerned, both over time and as between different industrial nations, even while absolute mobility rates reveal considerable diversity. Nevertheless there is evidence that vigorous social policies aimed at greater equality can reduce the harshness or gradient of these inequalities. This article questions the theoretical account that so far has been offered to explain on the one hand the aforementioned stability, on the other hand the muting effects of egalitarian policies. It offers, instead, an account in terms of 'self-organised criticality', as expounded by writers on complexity science. It seeks to demonstrate, thereby, the utility of such complexity perspectives and the scope for deploying them to good explanatory effect in social and policy studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-126
Number of pages18
JournalPolicy Studies
Volume32
Issue number2
Early online date9 Mar 2011
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011

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