Mobility, Inequality, and Beliefs About Distribution and Redistribution

Source: George Wilson, Vincent Roscigno, Carsten Sauer, Nick Petersen, Social Forces, Advance Access, May 10, 2021
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From the abstract:
Classic theory has long been interested in mobility, but with limited attention to the implications of intergenerational movement for inequality-specific beliefs. In this article, we introduce a dynamic conception and modeling of the impact of intergenerational occupational mobility on inequality orientations generally and distributive and redistributive beliefs in particular. The diagonal models we employ using 2008–2010 General Social Survey samples—modeling that considers intergenerational occupational origin and destination, and that is replicated on a larger sample across three waves of the GSS—reveal strong conservatizing effects of mobility overall. Those who occupationally fall relative to their parents, although somewhat more progressive by virtue of the downward mobility experience, tend to cling more so to the conservative beliefs characteristic of their higher status origins. Those experiencing mobility gains, in contrast, usually adopt the more conservative orientations of those who they are now surrounded by and in ways that legitimize individual efforts. These patterns are notably pronounced compared to other aspects of one’s job, political affiliation, and status-related attributes; are somewhat stronger among men than women; and differ significantly for Blacks. We elaborate and conclude by highlighting the need for a mobility-centered corrective to sociological understandings of inequality beliefs and how workplace-related experiences in particular shape ideological leanings.