Old debate, new evidence: Class mobility trends in Israeli society, 1974-1991

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This paper engages in the ongoing debate concerning the consequences of the industrialization process for social mobility. At the heart of this debate is the 'liberal thesis' which states that the industrialization process brings about not only more opportunity for social mobility, but also more equality of opportunity. This paper examines changes over time in social mobility in Israel. It also looks at Israel's mobility regime in a comparative perspective, and at the relationship between immigration and social mobility. Israeli society makes a good case study for the following reasons: Israeli society is a new society; Israeli society has experienced rapid economic and demographic changes; Recently collected data of high quality make it possible to follow the emergence of Israeli society and changes within it, and to relate them to social mobility. The sources of data in this study are the 1974 mobility survey (Matras and Weintraub, 1977), and the 1991 mobility survey in Israel (Kraus and Toren, 1992). To achieve comparability between the two datasets this paper uses the methodology adopted by the CASMIN (Comparative Analysis of Social Mobility in Industrial Nations) project to study intergenerational class mobility of Israeli men aged 25-64. It is found that social mobility in Israel is at a high level in a comparative perspective. At the same time, Israel's mobility regime is basically similar to other industrial nations' mobility regimes, and over time, Israel's mobility regime has changed very little. Any distinct mobility pattern in Israel (or change over time in this pattern) is explained by historical processes, specific institutional arrangements, and state interventions in the economy (particularly in the agricultural sector). Industrialization and social mobility are not found to be closely related in Israel, nor can we say that Israel's high level of fluidity is caused by immigration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-183
Number of pages25
JournalEuropean Sociological Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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