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Essay on Social Stratification and Mobility

Date:  2021-06-22 18:57:10
5 pages  (1133 words)
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Social stratification and mobility can be analyzed based on the provided reading. The occupational and labor market effects in the context have been explored and observed to have an effect on the expansion of secondary and postsecondary education in 1922 to 1979. The practice of schooling has always been seen to prepare students for the labor market that is ever evolving. It boosts the skills needed in the job market as well as increasing credentials required. This is in the framework of the argument of credentials-inflation. School attendance has further accelerated since individuals realized the benefits they would obtain in the societys labor market (Walters, 1984).

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Walters (1984) also depicted that school attendance has made people acquire a social status. The argument of technical function illustrates that schools impart cognitive skills in their learners. These skills are needed to accomplish various occupational roles in the society. The increase in demand for skilled labor has further increased the acquisition of education. As such, most individuals want to fit in the job market that further expanded in the period of 1922-1979 and has gaps in white collar and skilled positions as well. Additionally, the rise of skilled and white-collar jobs in the economy at that time led to an intensification in demand for more refined cognitive skills. High demand for competencies among individuals implies that the education will also expand, hence the growth of the secondary and post-secondary schools as well.

School can thus be pointed out as one of the first agents of social stratification. Walters (1984) purported that higher intellectual capacity and even skills create the notion of social stratification in that some are perceived to be more intelligent than others. Alternatively, it can be purported that school develops the element of social stratification among people. Another way of analyzing this aspect is concerning the level of educational attainment. A high level of educational attainment such as Ph. D. puts one on another level of class regarding ownership of credentials or educational knowledge. As such, it motivates those on a lower level to work harder and reach the level ranked highly in the society as well (Walters, 1984). However, the entire practice of schooling develops social stratification in the society.

Walters (1984) further pointed out that social stratification and mobility can further be related to people who prefer to work rather than attend school. By making the youth leave the labor market, enrollments in school rises. As such, the workplaces are replaced by schools that make the young population occupied. Unskilled youth have also been pushed to schools and especially as a result of technological change. Additionally, a rise in the supply of unskilled labor due to immigration reduce the work opportunities in the market for individuals who are at the age of attending school. The affordability of schools and even higher learning institutions has boosted a reduction in the occurrence of social stratification concerning the aspect of schooling. However, social stratification may still be developed when limitations are imposed on admissions examinations. Furthermore, available spaces in learning institutions have also been limited (Walters, 1984). This has thus enforced severe restraints on the ability of students to seek admission in the higher education institutions.

A process of occupational preparation has been utilized to analyze effects on the expansion of education. Educational credentials and especially a college degree have been pointed to be fundamental for individuals to gain access to various professional employment opportunities in the labor market. Expansion of schools and how it relates to professional-technical occupations can be analyzed since they relate. In these aspects, changes may be evidenced in the certification needs. These may occur for the professions that are technical or those that face stiff competition in the market especially if they are quite attractive. An individual with a college degree may easily advance in their career or job. They may do this by expanding their level of education and hence obtain promotions or land into better opportunities in the market. An improvement of their job occupations will depict that they will get a higher income. With a high salary, they will improve their life conditions regarding acquiring necessary items and other secondary necessities in life (Walters, 1984). In other words, their general living conditions will improve depicting social stratification or a movement from one class in the society to another one.

The occurrence of social stratification in the society may further be attributed to occupational effects that occur as a result of variation in the demand for labor of young individuals and adolescents. The distinction in labor demand among adolescents or adults in their youthful age has an influence regarding their schooling or acquisition of skills and knowledge. It has either stimulated them to stay in school for a longer period since they lack contemporary options to work. Moreover, by getting out of school, they may be drawn into the workforce where their labor services are required to act as a supplement to the old personnel. As such, school is seen to occupy parts of the surplus labor pool when there is low demand (Walters, 1984). In the end, it assists to reduce the threat of high unemployment rates that is quite upsetting among the affected individuals.

The distinction in job opportunities in the labor market among the young and old people has further increased the occurrence of social stratification and mobility. However, in this case, it has reduced the aspect of mobility and in particular among the young individuals who have found it hard to be employed. On the other hand, it has increased the gap between the young and old in the labor market and society in general. This is as a result of limited opportunities for the young who cannot afford to live expensive lives or even in the high-class neighborhoods due to minimal jobs. They have been left with the option of staying in school and advancing their level of education hoping that by the time they leave, an opening will be present. Furthermore, they can also decide to begin working at lower levels of organizations despite having a higher standard of education and climb the ladder with time. However, this may be tough to take place in a quick manner as a result of the various procedure involved in jobs. Gender differences are also a determinant of occupational opportunities in the labor market (Walters, 1984). This aspect has been in existence for long as more and better opportunities are usually available to one gender as compared to another. Social stratification and mobility interrelate. With upward mobility, the occurrence of social stratification increases. On the other hand, downward mobility decreases the element of social stratification as well.


Walters, P. (1984). Occupational and Labor Market Effects on Secondary and Postsecondary Educational Expansion in the United States: 1922 to 1979. American Sociological Association, 49(5), 659-671. Retrieved from

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