Accueil > English Supplement > Volume 50, Supplement 1 > Objective/subjective : The two facets of social mobility - M. Duru-Bellat, (...)

Objective/subjective : The two facets of social mobility - M. Duru-Bellat, A. Kieffer

Marie Duru-Bellat
Sciences-Po-Paris, OSC et IREDU-CNRS, Esplanade Erasme, BP 26513, 21065 Dijon, France

Annick Kieffer
LASMAS-CNRS, 59–61 rue Pouchet, 75849 Paris cedex 17, France

Available online 10 September 2008 on ScienceDirect

How does objective social mobility, traditionally measured using mobility tables drawn up by sociologists, relate to feelings about mobility, i.e., how individuals perceive, explain and assess their social trajectory ? Using a question from Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques [INSEE]’s Formation, Qualification Professionnelle (FQP) survey, subjective mobility was statistically assessed in order to compare results of the two approaches to mobility and measure the (considerable) frequency of discrepancies between them. Subjective mobility was then analyzed qualitatively on the basis of interviews with a subsample of survey respondents. This way of proceeding provides information on and helps account for the observed discrepancies while making it possible to identify the bundle of parameters people use to assess their own mobility. This in turn allows for pointing up a number of methodological and conceptual limitations in classic statistical surveys on social mobility.

Keywords : Social mobility ; Upward/downward mobility ; Subjective perceptions of mobility ; Individual trajectories ; France

Article Outline

  • 1. “Subjective” mobility, “objective” mobility
    • 1.1. Statistically assessing subjective mobility
    • 1.2. Discrepancies between “objective” and “subjective” mobility
  • 2. Mobility as actors define and interpret it
    • 2.1. Situating oneself within a social group
    • 2.2. Describing oneself as “déclassé” or moving up
    • 2.3. Shedding light on discrepancies between objective and subjective mobility results
  • 3. Questioning the usual modes of apprehending social mobility
    • 3.1. Questioning the logic of social categorization
    • 3.2. Questioning some presuppositions of external approaches to social mobility
  • 4. Conclusion
  • References

Sociologie du Travail
Volume 50, Supplement 1, December 2008, Pages e1–e18
Translation by Amy Jacobs