Spring 2016: The Peopling of New York City A Macaulay Honors Seminar taught by Prof. Karen Williams at Brooklyn College

Spring 2016: The Peopling of New York City
Preventing Social Mobility Through Social Stratification

In “Racism Without Racists”, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva sheds light a means of social stratification regarded as Latin Americanization. Through this proposed model, a triracial divide forms between those deemed white, honorary white, and collective black (Bonilla-Silva 180). Purportedly, those who occupy a high space in this racial ladder, those in the white and high level honorary white categories, experience greater financial success, through increased job prospects, and less race-based prejudice than do those who occupy the lower honorary white and collective black categories of this model.  If the United States is to adopt a triracial stratification system, as purposed by this model, then the obstacles evidenced through social stratification in Latin American nations would be emulated within the United States. The absence of availability of social mobility within these hierarchal class structures is a topic matter which garners much attention when the prospect of potential social stratification within the United States is brought to light.

Through Viviane Azevedo and Cesar P. Bouillon’s statistical analysis of social mobility within the nations of Costa Rica, Paraguay, Ecuador, Venezuela, Uruguay, and Brazil, social mobility, household income inequality, and wage inequality are inspected (19). Amongst the various conclusions proposed by this analysis, stands the claim that social mobility within these countries is highly restricted in comparison to that of which is experienced in countries such as the United Kingdom and present day United States which have not initiated a race-based social hierarchy. Social mobility is not barred only intra-generationally but spans into the land of inter-generational restriction.  A consequence of this immobility is the creation of a cyclical generation-to-generation trap; correspondingly, those who are born into the lowest echelon of class are unable to surpass this class due to socioeconomic factors which hinder their ability to gain wage in their respective fields, occupy certain positions not indicative of those readily available to the individuals in the class to which he or she occupies, and inhabit lands that are deemed to be of higher social ranking than that of their own social ranking (Azevedo and Bouillon 21-22). Discriminatory hiring practices play a role in preventing social rise by restricting jobs to a particular class of individuals. These three preventative measures work in tandem to diminish, if not completely negate, an individual’s ability to rise in class. These social traps also delve into the lives of those in the upper class echelon. Those who have the financial means to access high education will, as an effect, have access to the positions which require this level of education as evidenced by whites in Brazil. Subsequent availability or absence of proper schooling will majorly determine the class that a child occupies.

Through adoption of a Latin American style of stratification, these mobile traps will come into fruition. The mentality that the United States can elevate any individual’s social status through the individual’s hard work will dwindle and restrictions will be placed on an individual’s potential social growth. The crystallization of such a framework will be detrimental to the United States’ ideological makeup if social stratification is to occur, as it has, in many Latin American nations.

External Source:

Social Mobility in Latin America: A Review of Existing Evidence by Viviane Azevedo and Cesar P. Bouillon; http://www.iadb.org/res/publications/pubfiles/pubWP-689.pdf

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