Social mobility should not be confused with social change. In case of social change, the social structure undergoes a change, in one way or the other.
Therefore, in this case, nature and the placement of different statuses in hierarchy may also change. In other words, social change brings changes in the structure and functioning of the social system. But in case of social mobility, statuses, social norms, social conditions etc. may not change. But in this case only the individual moves from one status to another within the social system.
(I) Horizontal versus Vertical Mobility:
In case of hierarchical mobility, an individual moves from one status to another at the same level. There is no substantial change in the social status of the individual. On the other hand, in the case of vertical mobility, he either improves his status or goes down in the hierarchy. The former is called upward mobility the latter is called, downward mobility. Vertical mobility is more significant because it brings certain change in the social status of an individual.
(II) Occupational Mobility:
There are different occupations having different social statuses. It is not necessary that if an occupation has economic status, it should also have a high social status. For example, a prostitute may be very rich, but her social status is very low. A railway driver gets a high salary but his social status is not recognized as high. A change in occupation can change the status of a person. Occupational mobility as such can act as a source of social mobility. That is why Occupational Mobility is regarded as a type of Social Mobility. Occupational Mobility is of two types: (a) Inter-Generational Mobility: In this case every successive generation gives up the occupation of the previous generation and starts a new occupation.
This type of occupational mobility manifests changes from one generation to another. (b) Intra-Generation Mobility: In this type the members of the same generation change over to a new occupation.
(III) Educational Mobility:
Education is also a criterion of high social status. An individual can improve his social status by acquiring more and more education and can, hence, have social mobility.
(IV) Caste or Class Mobility:
Several types of social mobility are significantly present in the social system. It characterizes every society.
In fact, social mobility is a necessary and almost unavoidable element of social stratification. Even in case of caste stratified social system, which is quite close and rigid system of stratification there is present some type of social mobility. Bailey studied the village Bisipara located in central India and concluded that certain castes over there had improved their caste statuses by raising their economic standards. Circulation among social classes is an accepted reality. Irrespective of the fact whether it is a class stratified society or a caste stratified society, Social mobility charaterises every society In the social system individuals do not occupy rigidly fixed statuses. They keep on moving from one status to another within the social system. Such changes in the status come under the influence of the changing circumstances and needs.
Occupational changes act as a potent source of status and social mobility. In this way, Social Mobility is present in every society and it is quite necessary for the society.