Equality via mobility: Why socioeconomic mobility matters for relational equality, distributive equality, and equality of opportunity

Social Philosophy and Policy 31 (2):158-179 (2015)
Govind Persad
University of Denver
This essay examines the connection between socioeconomic mobility and equality, and argues for two conclusions: First, socioeconomic mobility is conceptually distinct from three common species of equality: (1) equality of opportunity, (2) equality of outcome, and (3) relational equality. Second, socioeconomic mobility is connected — in different ways — to each species of equality, and, if we value one or more of these species of equality, these connections endow it with derivative normative significance. The essay begins by differentiating several forms of mobility, such as absolute, relative, intergenerational, intragenerational, upward, and downward mobility, and briefly reviewing relevant findings from the social sciences. It then investigates the relationship between mobility and equality.
Keywords social mobility  economic mobility  relative mobility  mobility  equality of opportunity  relational equality  intergenerational mobility  distributive justice
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DOI 10.1017/S0265052514000302
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