Social Mobility

When the values of a society switch from decentralised community building to centralised competition organised around making money, then the ambitions of its people switch in the same way. The cooperative ethic of neighbourhood gives way to the competitive ethic of relative advantage, with its corollary of relative disadvantage for those that have been less successful in the competition.

The social mobility of the late market economy has become a defining ethic. It implies that manual skills and the places and communities that are left behind by the socially mobile represent failure. Community is a place the talented want to leave. The market economy mines society for its talent, confident that community won’t be needing it.

The recognition that social mobility has its disadvantages as well as its merits lacks credibility in an economy which sees values in terms only of individual advantage, and to which the idea of community is invisible. But, in the Lean Economy, community is central, and it will no longer be a standard assumption that the first thing talented people want to do is to get out of their inherited communities and concentrate in distant centres of talent, power and dislocation. Social mobility is one of the concepts about which we will need to start thinking afresh. When community is thought-through, it leads to conclusions which are unpalatable to the expectations of the present.


Related entries:

Freedom, Empowerment, Identity, Money Fallacy, Social Entropy.

David Fleming
Dr David Fleming (2 January 1940 – 29 November 2010) was a cultural historian and economist, based in London, England. He was among the first to reveal the possibility of peak oil's approach and invented the influential TEQs scheme, designed to address this and climate change. He was also a pioneer of post-growth economics, and a significant figure in the development of the UK Green Party, the Transition Towns movement and the New Economics Foundation, as well as a Chairman of the Soil Association. His wide-ranging independent analysis culminated in two critically acclaimed books, 'Lean Logic' and 'Surviving the Future', published posthumously in 2016. These in turn inspired the 2020 launches of both BAFTA-winning director Peter Armstrong's feature film about Fleming's perspective and legacy - 'The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation?' - and Sterling College's unique 'Surviving the Future: Conversations for Our Time' online courses. For more information on all of the above, including Lean Logic, click the little globe below!

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