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Social mobility is the movement, usually of
individuals or groups, from one social position to
another within the socially stratified system in
any society. (Social mobility allows individuals to
move either up or down the hierarchy.) It may
refer to classes, ethnic groups, or entire nations.
In closed systems, like in the plantation society,
social mobility was impossible. Now in the
Caribbean it is quite possible according to what
people have accomplished.
Vertical Mobility- there are two ways vertical
mobility can take place. They are upward mobility
and downward mobility.
Upward Mobility- this is where an individual or a
group can improve their position in the hierarchy.
Example: an individual gets a seat in parliament.
This allows the individual to attain a lot of money
and improve their status thus moving up in the
Downward Mobility-this is where an individual or a
group can worsen their status thus lowering their
position in the hierarchy. Example: a person loses his
job as a lawyer and decides to work as a plumber.
This new job shows that their status has been
lowered as well as his position in the hierarchy.
Horizontal Mobility-it is a change in an occupational
position but not a change in status. It is a change in
position but within the range of the same status.
Example: an accountant leaves his old job to work
for a different company because it is closer to home.
Social Mobility amongst East Indians:
In the larger island territories such as Jamaica, Trinidad
and Guyana, which received East Indian labourers, these
workers were designated to the lowest position in the
social structure. East Indians are no longer situated at the
bottom of the social structure as a social grouping, but
rather, they rank at various levels. This change was
influenced by marrying someone successful, attaining a
good education, getting a good job, wise investments etc.
Indeed, overtime, East Indians have acquired a great deal
of economic power. This is mostly seen in territories such
as Trinidad and Guyana.
Social Mobility amongst Africans:
The African population of the Caribbean has been largely
descended from the formerly enslaved populations. For
almost 400 years, enslaved blacks were stereotyped as
inferior. They held no political power, no wealth, and no
citizenship and were denied to actively and openly
participate in their own cultural traditions. All of these
factors placed them to the base position of the social
After Emancipation, Africans abandoned the estates, in a
bid to seek out and create a socially and economically
independent life. Most Africans sought to educate their
children. Africans rose to political dominance in most of
the island territories and maintained such power from the
1960’s unto the present.