What is Social Mobility and Social ShoppingJune 26, 2021
An important feature that stands out in Tocqueville’s culture of democratic society is the concept of social mobility.
Social mobility also paves the way for the exchange of social behaviors and social relations. This will also provide a sense of trust in social relations. In Tocqueville’s words, interaction in voluntary organizations is the social glue that binds individual Americans together. Contrary to the official status and obligations that hold together more traditional and hierarchical relations as they are accustomed to in Europe, the situation in America; It is seen that the desire to go beyond official relations and the desire to avoid social risk in order to reach trust dominate.
When talking about social mobility, Tocqueville talks about the concept of “power of assembly”. According to this, “when there is a blockage on a public road, the passengers immediately unite in a parliament and discuss the issue. In this context, there is nothing that the human will cannot achieve through the free activity of the collective power of the individuals” (1962: 46). This situation is one of the most distinctive features of democratic culture. The solution of the problems is sought on a common ground where everyone presents their ideas and discussions are held. Non-governmental organizations and political parties are important in a democratic society as they are places where this common ground is established. The concept of social mobility, which Tocqueville uses while describing organizations, also refers to the network society, which is one of the main arguments of social capital. Communication networks are strong and social relations are in constant motion thanks to these networks.
According to Tocqueville, people in an aristocratic structure are members of the social class they were born into, and their relations with members of other classes are subject to certain rules. Human relations are not based on equality, but on inequality and privilege (Çağla, 2006: 75). In other words, while aristocratic society is based on the principle of maintaining differences, democratic society; based on the abolition of differences. In other words, the democratic structure is based on the acceptance of “equality of conditions”. According to Tocqueville, interaction in voluntary organizations is a social glue that binds individual Americans together. Contrary to the official status and obligations of Europe that hold together more traditional and hierarchical relations as they are accustomed to, the situation in America; It is seen that the desire to go beyond official relations and the desire to avoid social risk in order to reach trust dominate.
While the rigid class structure of the aristocratic structure prevents the formation of social mobility, there is a situation where transitions between classes are easy in democratic societies. While drawing attention to this situation, Tocqueville uses the following expressions: “Afterwards, all of a sudden, classes begin to mix, the reasons that separate people from each other disappear, land is divided, power becomes democratized, and democracy silently dominates customs and institutions” (1966: 7). It is possible to consider another description of the aforementioned transformation in the context of the organization of classes. Accordingly, in the aristocratic structure, as each class gets closer and mingles with each other, its members become alienated and indifferent to each other. At the same time, the members of the aristocratic structure were organized in a chain that can be traced from the peasant to the king, and democracy broke this chain and separated the rings from each other (Çağla, 2006: 63).
It is seen that a new social mobility has emerged in the separation of the circles and the subsequent change, as seen in the “gathering power”. In this sense, social mobility provides the opportunity for every individual in the society to be active. Large numbers of people who were formerly ineffective and powerful acquire a certain effectiveness and power as conditions become equal. Beyond becoming self-sufficient, they begin to express opinions on general issues without any debt to others. Those who were in the upper levels of the hierarchy in the past cannot forget their bright past, they feel alien in the new society. The old aristocrats think that the rulers oppress them in the new order, they become more isolated rather than approaching other classes. The lower classes, on the other hand, remain in a state of unease between their victories and their fear of the future. There is loneliness and isolation on both sides.
This transformation also caused some difficulties. In particular, the social positions of aristocrats were shaken. The most striking change in this context was the equal distribution of wealth. According to Tocqueville, this change reduced the distance separating the rich from the poor, which was good. However, “as these two groups approached each other, they found new reasons for mutual hatred and sought to oust each other from the position of power by scrutinizing each other with envy and violence. There was no such thing as right and law for both sides, and force was the only way for all of them.