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mobility (social mobility)

Definition of Mobility

(noun) An individual’s or group’s (e.g., family) movement through the class hierarchy due to changes in income, occupation, or wealth.

Types of Mobility

Mobility Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: mo·bil·i·ty

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /moh-bIl-uh-tee/
  • British English – /moh-bIl-i-tee/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /moʊˈbɪlᵻdi/
  • British English – /mə(ʊ)ˈbɪlᵻti/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: mobilities
  • The terms “mobility” and “social mobility” are used interchangeably in a sociological context.
  • Social mobility can be horizontal or vertical and viewed intergenerationally or intragenerationally.

Related Quotations

  • Caste and class systems of stratification are opposite, extreme points on a continuum. The two systems differ in the ease of social mobility, the relative importance of achieved and ascribed statuses, and the extent to which each restricts interaction among people considered unequal” (Ferrante 2011:204).
  • “With the advent of globalization and the increased mobility of professionals and workers of all kinds across national boundaries, the problem of recognizing ‘credentials‘ obtained in other countries has come to the fore. On the one hand, professional organizations and other occupational associations are concerned that the influx of such credentialed individuals may weaken their control over the supply of ‘qualified’ labor; on the other hand, governments are under pressure to recognize such ‘foreign credentials’ by a public that is anxious to alleviate a real or perceived scarcity of professional service providers in such areas as medicine and law” (Smith 2008:166–67).

Related Videos

Additional Information

Related Terms


Ferrante, Joan. 2011. Sociology: A Global Perspective. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Smith, Murray. 2008. “credentialism.” Pp. 166–67 in International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 2nd ed., edited by W. Darity. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA.

Works Consulted

Encyclopædia Britannica. (N.d.) Britannica Digital Learning. (https://britannicalearn.com/).

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/).

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Scott, John, and Gordon Marshall. 2005. A Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Taylor & Francis. (N.d.) Routledge Handbooks Online. (https://www.routledgehandbooks.com/).

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

Wiley. (N.d.) Wiley Online Library. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/).

Cite the Definition of Mobility

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “mobility.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 23, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/mobility/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

mobility. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/mobility/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “mobility.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 23, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/mobility/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“mobility.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 23 Jun. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/mobility/>.