Concept of the Day: Contest Mobility

Contest mobility is a system of a changing social status hierarchy which is seen as a “contest”, a competition where elite status is the end goal. Basically, a contest mobility can be seen as a meritocracy in which achievement is attributed to effort and where attributes such as enterprise and perseverance are valued.

The term contest mobility was used in a 1960 work by Ralph H. Turner in which compared the American and British systems of secondary education and found that in the American system contest mobility is the norm.

In such a system, elite status is earned through effort and dedication and credentials largely established by the society are used to identify the social status and class of the individual. Credentials can be material assets or skills.

Contest mobility is usually associated with the American Dream and the notion that through hard work and determination everything is possible.

David Bradley, White Earth Ojibwe American Dream II
David Bradley, White Earth Ojibwe American Dream II

 

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