occupational mobilitythe movement of individuals through different levels in a hierarchy of occupational positions (see OCCUPATIONAL SCALES). The case with which individuals may achieve this is usually an indication of the open or closed nature of the CLASS system of a particular society (GIDDENS, 1973). Occupational mobility may be upward or downward, and may be either individual or collective. The latter is often achieved through strategies of occupational closure, such as PROFESSIONALIZATION. The medical profession in the 19th-century is a good example of how successful this strategy can be in raising the income, STATUS and prestige of an occupation.
The degree of occupational mobility may be measured either inter-or intra-generationally In these cases the extent of movement achieved is used as a measure of SOCIAL MOBILITY. This is a complex are a of research (Heath, 1981), since the comparison of rates of or chances for social mobility is complicated by variations in the grading of occupations on different scales, historical changes in the status of different kinds of work, the appearance of new kinds of jobs (e.g. those concerned with NEW TECHNOLOGY) and the decline of old ones (e.g. those in traditional ‘smoke stack’ industries), as well as genuine improvements in chances for upward mobility through better educational provision.