Dissertation Abstracts

Trends, Covariates and Consequences of Intergenerational Social Mobility in Post- Socialist Societies

Author: Gugushvili, Alexi , alexi.gugushvili@eui.eu
Department: Department of Political and Social Sciences
University: European University Institute, Italy
Supervisor: Prof. Martin Kohli, Prof. Fabrizio Bernardi
Year of completion: 2014
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Social Mobility , Democracy , Attitudes , Post-Socialism
Areas of Research: Stratification , Political Sociology , Social Transformations and Sociology of Development


This dissertation studies the trends, covariates and consequences of intergenerational social mobility in post-socialist societies. The existing literature does not provide an answer about whether cross-national differences in social mobility levels are determined by socialist legacies or by the divergent paths these countries followed in their transition from socialism to capitalism. In addition to the industrialisation thesis and the role of income inequality, I study the implications of political democracy and economic liberalisation for intergenerational status reproduction. Individual-level consequences of mobility are explored using the social-psychological concept of the self-serving bias in causal attribution, which suggests that people are more likely to explain individual success as resulting from their own abilities and efforts. Market-based democratic systems, almost by definition, emphasize the importance of self-determination in shaping an individual’s life chances. Thus, upwardly mobile groups are expected to show greater support for an unequal distribution of rewards. The hypotheses are tested using multivariate and multilevel statistical methods based on data from the European Values Studies and Life in Transition Survey. Although I find evidence of the decisive role of social origin in predicting educational and occupational attainment, particularly during post-socialism, cross-country variation in intergenerational social mobility can largely be explained by the institutions that were in place immediately after the collapse of the Berlin Wall. The findings suggest that while strong, positive links exist between social mobility and democracy levels in Western Europe, the economic liberalisation that took place in the early 1990s is the strongest predictor of why some post-socialist states have higher social mobility rates than others; subjective perceptions of mobility have stronger implications for attitudes than the objective mobility experience; upwardly mobile individuals do in fact demonstrate more support for inequality, democracy and market economy, but the strength of these links is mediated by macro-contextual variables.

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