Vertical social mobility refers to the movement of individuals or groups from one social position to another, where the new position is either higher or lower in a given social hierarchy. Horizontal social mobility, on the other hand, refers to the movement of individuals or groups from one social position to another that is relatively equal in terms of power, prestige, and wealth.
Vertical social mobility can occur in various ways, such as through education, occupation, or marriage. For example, if a person grows up in a working-class family but is able to attend a prestigious university and eventually lands a high-paying job, they have experienced upward vertical social mobility. Alternatively, if a person grows up in a wealthy family but experiences financial setbacks or loses their job, they may experience downward vertical social mobility.
Horizontal social mobility, on the other hand, can occur when an individual or group moves from one occupation or social position to another that is relatively equal in terms of power and prestige. For example, if a person starts their career as a teacher and later becomes a doctor, they have experienced horizontal social mobility because both occupations are considered highly respected and prestigious.
Both vertical and horizontal social mobility are important concepts in sociology because they help us understand how societies are structured and how people move within them. They also have significant implications for social inequality and the distribution of resources within a society.
Vertical social mobility can contribute to social inequality because it often leads to a concentration of resources and privileges among those who have experienced upward mobility. This can result in a perpetuation of social class differences and a lack of mobility for those who are unable to move up the social ladder.
Horizontal social mobility, on the other hand, may be seen as more egalitarian because it allows for the movement of individuals or groups between positions that are relatively equal in terms of power and prestige. This can help to create more diverse and inclusive societies, where individuals are able to achieve success regardless of their social background.
Overall, both vertical and horizontal social mobility play important roles in shaping the social structure and dynamics of societies. Understanding these concepts can help us to better understand the ways in which individuals and groups move within and between social positions, and the impact this has on social inequality and the distribution of resources.