A Biomarker Approach to Social Mobility and Wellbeing in Great Britain: Sorokin Revisited

16.05.2017 - 17:15 to 18:45
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Type of Event : 
AB A-Kolloquium
Dr. Patrick Präg
Lecturer affiliation: 
University of Oxford

Sorokin's (1927) 'dissociative hypothesis,' the claim that social mobility (upwards or downwards) has negative effects on the wellbeing of the individuals who are socially mobile, has inspired a lot of research, yet was long held to be refuted. Studies had been showing that social mobility has either positive or at least no negative effects on the wellbeing of individuals. Recently however, qualitative studies called the findings of previous research into question, suggesting that the wellbeing self-reports given by survey respondents might be upwardly biased for the socially mobile.

Hence, rather than using self-reports, our study conceptualizes wellbeing by allostatic load to revisit the hypothesis of intergenerational social mobility effects. Allostatic load is a composite biomarker score that measures the 'wear and tear' exacted on the body by its efforts to adapt to stressful life experiences -- such as social mobility is assumed to be. Drawing on Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS), and making use of the diagonal reference model, we show that allostatic load is particularly high among the stable working class and low among the stable salariat. Own social class and origin social class exert about equal weight on current allostatic load. We do not find that social mobility -- regardless of whether upwards or downwards -- is detrimental for wellbeing.