This article studies class attainment and mobility in a long-term perspective, covering the entire transition from a preindustrial to a mature industrial society. Using longitudinal individual-level data for men in a community of southern Sweden, we test different hypotheses linking changing patterns of social mobility and status attainment to the industrialization process. The data allows an analysis of Sweden's complete transition from an agrarian to an industrialized society, and thus to comprehensively address core hypotheses in the stratification literature. Both absolute and relative mobility increased, mainly explained by upward mobility becoming more prevalent. By looking at status attainment into different segments of the middle class and elite, we also see the increasing role played by formal education and meritocracy for the opportunities of people from low-class origin to advance socially. However, this development is more connected with the maturing of industrial society than with industrialization as such.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work has been done within the project “Towards the modern family. Socioeconomic stratification, family formation and fertility in a historical perspective,” funded by the Swedish Research Council (VR). We are grateful to seminar participants at the Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen, the Unit of Economic History, University of Gothenburg, the Centre for Economic Demography, Lund University as well as session participants at the meetings of the Social Science History Association (Boston, 2011), the Economic History Society (Oxford, 2012), the RC28 (Hong Kong, 2012), and the Swedish Economic History Meeting (Lund, 2013).
- Longitudinal data
- Middle-class attainment
- Relative mobility
- Social mobility