Whittaker, John (1977) Social mobility: a social psychological study. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

It is argued that the study of social mobility is an area in which psychological analysis could make a valuable contribution to sociological theory and vice versa, and that up to now psychology has offered very little of direct relevance despite the fact that psychological assumptions and questions abound in the sociological literature.

In chapter 1, the development of the concept of social space is examined, the ideas of Sorokin, Lenski, Galtung, Blau & Duncan, and Hope being taken as examples of stages in the evolution of the notion. Chapter 2 is concerned with the concept of social mobility; the various types of mobility which have been recognised are discussed, and some of the uses which have been made of the concept, especially by Sorokin, are considered. In chapter 3, the problems of (i) measuring social position and movement, and (ii) statistical analysis are considered. In all these chapters, the intention is not to be comprehensive but to select major issues which are of especial relevance for the psychologist.

Part 2 is mainly an examination of the psychological efforts at explanation in the field of mobility which have been attempted, either overtly or implicitly. Beginning in Chapter 4 with a discussion of variables thought to be correlated with mobility, it continues in chapter 5 with a detailed examination of occupational choice, social isolation, and aspiration/achievement motivation, these all being closely related to motivational processes. It is concluded that none of the previous motivational explanations are adequate, although the achievement motivation theorists appear to have a reasonable-looking idea; chapter 6 is a detailed critique of achievement motivation theory, undertaken in order to demonstrate the need for a new approach.

In chapters 7 and 8 a new theory is presented, which incorporates a psychological model of social space and a (mainly) motivational and perceptual analysis of individual behaviour in relation to mobility and similar processes. The model differs from previous multidimensional models of social space in a number of important respects; it is designed to encompass the uncertainties of subjective judgment rather than the niceties of sophisticated statistical analysis, it is based on the claim, supported by reference to relevant theory. that the key psychological process in stratification is differential evaluation in prestige-like terms, and it defines status inconsistency in a new way which, it is argued, may help to explain some of the contradictory findings of previous workers in that field. The final chapter shows how the new theory can help towards a fuller understanding of some of the processes which have been studied extensively by sociologists, as well as taking up the practical problems of working with the new theory; an attempt is made to show how the theory can be operationalised, and a number of' possible criticisms of the theory are acknowledged and answered.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: For access to the hard copy thesis, check the University Library catalogue.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Science and Public Policy
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 23 May 2019 08:31
Last Modified: 28 May 2019 08:27
URI: http://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/6381

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