86. szám // 2021. Mobilitás a rendi társadalomban


Megjelent: 2022.03.02.

Keszei András

Merit and Upward Mobility in the System of Estates

DOI: 10.52656/KORALL.2021.04.001


Both the self-evident acknowledgment of hierarchies and the human ambition tomove up in the ranks of society seem to be part of our ancient heritage. Acceptingone’s superiors does not necessarily preclude attempts to climb the social ladder.However, this takes place in a social environment where rational considerationsare only part of the overall strategy, as it can be seen in the interpretation of andresponses to top-down designations; at the same time, behaviour is governed byhabitus, which, in certain situations, causes cultural inertia or inflexibility in somegroups. This inertia is not interminable, it can be changed by learning processeseven in the course of a single individual’s lifetime. Upward mobility, however, isnot wholly hinged on individual performance, but also on its context. The diversesocial domains — including their institutions, the power positions within andbetween them, and the advancement opportunities achievable through the typesof capital owned by the individual — constitute fields in which progress is onlypossible by exerting effort, similar to spaces familiar from everyday experience. Asexamples from the last decades of the Estate System clearly show, the synergy ofsocial background, habitus, personal qualities, and external factors together canlead to both upwards or downwards mobility in the social hierarchy.