I edited this out something I’m writing because it wasn’t relevant there, but it sums up something that has bugged me for years, so I thought I’d share it on its own.
We might imagine the mobility of ‘social mobility’ as simply a matter of moving about. But we all know politicians who use this phrase are talking about moving up. Moreover, they mean moving ‘up’ some concept of a class ladder or economic pyramid or their metaphorical ilk.
As such, it is mobility which relies on the existence of people staying below to be superior to. It is, by its nature, progress at the expense of others and with every use, perpetuates the idea that hierarchies are both natural and something to aspire to. Great for those few who rise and gain the power to be noticed, but less so for everyone else who tend to be, ever so conveniently, forgotten.
So, usually, when hear the words ‘social mobility’, I think it is an odd idea of equality which sells itself on the promise of inequality. And I don’t like it.