Practice Question –  “Education is a major source of social mobility in contemporary society.” Explain. (UPSC 2016)

Approach –Introduction, Define Education, Define Social Mobility, List how education helps in social mobility, Give examples, Conclusion. 



Education enables a man to acquire virtue, by making him social, interactive, and disciplined; it opens the vistas of learning by helping him better absorb information and sharing the
same, thus making him humane, and the central element in the social structure. Maclver asserted that social change happens as a response to many types of social and non-social environment. Education is considered the most important ‘ideological state apparatus’ devised by the ruling classes to ensure that the society largely conforms to their ideas and interests. In the traditional educational system the role of education was to transmit a fixed way of life to the students as society itself was an unchanging and static entity. However, in this modern context, education is seen as an instrument of social change brought about by changing man’s attitude and outlook.



M. K. Gandhi said, “By education, I mean all round drawing the best in a child and which means body, mind and soul”.

P. C. Banerjee (1947) defined education: “It is the development of the power of adaptation to an ever changing social environment”.

The basic objective of education is to get knowledge, skill and values (ethical, moral, spiritual and professional) as well as to learn desirable behavior in societal institutions that
make up the structure of society. Socialization process helps man to adapt to the diverse behavior patterns and changing situations in diverse role contexts. As far as the application of philosophy of education goes, education helps in reduction of poverty by mitigating its adverse effects on population, health and nutrition. While changes in social, economic and political environment take place due to various factors, the human resource has to adapt to those changes for stability of society, economy and relationships. Similarly, science and technology introduce inventions into the methods and processes and so, education has to be re-oriented to respond to those changes.



Parsons  believe in the existence of structural and functional sub-systems within the social system. The change in structural and functional sub-systems of the social system is
called social change. According to Jenson , social change may be defined as modification in the ways of doing and thinking of people. As per the views of Dawson, cultural change is the social change. Cultural change can be grouped into two categories: material and non-material. Material aspects of culture deal with the materials of utility while the non-material part constitutes habits, ideals, beliefs, attitudes and values. State of social development is called civilization. In the light of the above facts, social change means change in material and non-material aspects of the society. According to McIver, change in social structure is called social change.

Education is considered as the most powerful social change instrument. Through education, any society can bring desirable changes that can cope with the rapid development of
technology. Education, no doubt, can help the process of social change as a necessary and vitally important collateral factor. It can help to stimulate, accelerate and work out that
process by disseminating and inculcating knowledge, information, skills and values appropriate to the changing socio-economic issues. Education may help the process of far reaching social change by using its liberating role of examining and analyzing the existing social situation.

Education is a dominant factor which affects the social and cultural behaviors of individuals directly or/and indirectly. The effect of education is discernible in: (a) standard of life and
living; (b) resources; (c) population situation; (d) environmental problems; (e) existing socio-cultural patterns, etc.Education develops the individual: it makes him civilized and sophisticated, and a competent professional capable of coping with difficult situations and ultimately an expert with the qualities of a good human being and a responsible citizen.
Education effects changes in thinking, ideology, culture and interaction and this is what makes society dynamic, vibrant and prosperous. There is an undeniable link with personal
development, social and economic development and ultimately, national and international development. Education removes all kinds of barriers and helps in establishing peace,
harmony and happiness.



According to P.A. Sorokin: “ By social mobility is meant any transition of an individual from one position to another in a constellation of social group and strata.”
According to S. Bogardus: “ Social mobility is any change in social position, such as occupational changes where persons move up or down the occupational scale,
or relation to office whereby a follower becomes a leader, or a leap from a low economic class to a high one, or vice-versa.”

Education is a very potent means of encouraging social mobility the Indian society. It has multidirectional influence in promoting social mobility.  Formal education is directly and causally related to social mobility. This relationship is generally understood to be one in which formal education itself is a cause or one of the cause of vertical social mobility. Education is directly related to occupational mobility and the subsequent improvement in economic status and on the other hand, kit forms and element of social change. Persons with higher education and better employment are respected more in the society. It is a purpose of education to develop within the individual such motivation as will make him to work
hard for the improvement of his social position. Higher education helps in gaining higher income and, thus, education is an ;important means for upward social mobility. A change in occupation is considered to be the best single indicator of social mobility. The reason for it is that occupational status is closely correlated with educational status. Income style of life and the other determinants of class status.

Thus, education is a liberating force and in the present age it is also a democratizing force, cutting across the barriers of caste and class, smoothing out inequalities imposed by birth
and other circumstances, thereby, bringing about mobility among the people in the social structure of the society.



Education has brought about phenomenal changes in every aspect of man’s life. Francis Brown remarks that education is a process which brings about changes in the behaviour of society. It is a process which enables every individual to participate effectively in the activities of society, and to make positive contribution to the progress of society. According to Olive Banks, the precise relationship of the education system to social and economic change is extremely complex and it is almost impossible to draw conclusions that are not misleading. The concept of education as producing or impeding social change is enormously complicated by the fact that the education system itself is a part of society, which is itself changing. Consequently the real issue is that of the interrelationship between educational institutions and other aspects of the society.

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