9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS13 Re-Assessing Class in Contemporary Sociology

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Structuring Class: Perceptions, Mobility and Difference Building I, 1E11

Intergenerational social mobility and differentiated social capital: Two studies of single-industry communities

The question of inequality in possession of social capital is raising growing interest. Recent studies especially on European societies have showed the obvious relation between social capital and social stratification, the observation level being mostly national or international. In this paper I bring the analysis on a local level, having as research cases two small population centres, so called single-industry communities, the other one located in central Finland and the other one in eastern Lithuania. For this study, locality is the place in which economic, cultural and social processes and differentiations are created and maintained and where they are experienced and lived by local subjects.

I approach class from the point of view of intergenerational social mobility. The degree of social mobility has traditionally been considered a measure of the openness of society. However, according to e.g. the study by Erikson and Goldthorpe in 1992, social mobility tends to decrease when major societal changes such as industrialization are over. In addition, in developed industrial countries the intergenerational social mobility is quite stable and no remarkable mobility from lower to higher classes can be observed. In my analysis of the survey data collected among the inhabitants of the two local communities in 2006 and 2007, I found that the relative differences in social mobility of different social strata are not decreasing but rather reinforcing themselves over generations. My empirical analysis then points out the differentiation of individual social capital in relation to the type of social mobility, added the context that the locality itself gives. Social capital here is understood to be a multifaceted form of capital which accumulates in various types of networks, ranging from associational affiliation to informal networks of resources and positions.

The paper is part of my doctoral research which addresses local attachment from the viewpoint of social, cultural and economic capital. It is attached to the research project "Resources, locality and life course" funded by the Academy of Finland.