Abstraction will connect intergenerational mobility effects on inequality


 In the sociological literature for social
mobility, I assume that inequality that is lasting and passing down to
generations, intergenerational relations as a mechanism to explain lasting
inequality is significant in analyzing how inequalities in social realm can be
possible, how social stratification among social groups in terms of their social
class can pass down to generations and make them have been alive for years. Besides
the others dynamics behind social inequality like contributions of institutions
like laws, economy, policy, education and so forth, intergenerational mobility
has crucially influence on lasting inequality. In my paper, I argue that accessing
education is not equal for all social groups and secondly education itself makes
this inequality maintain and intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic
standing which means social position of a family pass down to their children is
one of the main cause of continued inequality for education, so I will try to
examine high level education access from different social groups in terms of
class and analyze Germany by looking at the children of different social groups
in accessing education and German education system, I will connect
intergenerational mobility effects on inequality among families from different
class positions. To make my argument strong, I will comprise my data from
sociological literature and use theories from old sociologists to base upon them
to my argumentation.


 Many scholars are interested in effects of
families on their children and they have done so much researches about family
influence on behavior, status and social positions of individuals who are rose
up by their parents. However, this kind of perspective on generation
reproduction neglects elder generation effects and other mechanisms had an impact
on family reproduction and children coming from this families for micro
perspective on individuals. Besides just focusing on nuclear families, individuals,
parent-child relationships on reproduction of generations and effects of micro-institutions
on children, their social position and status on society, multigenerational
researches suggest that so many generations are associated with each other, so
we need to go beyond to study only families but also older generation and next
generation to correlate their relations on individuals. Therefore, it may be
inadequate to focus on one generation to see the next generation’s social
mobility, indeed intergenerational mobility of generations and their social
positions require to study grandparent effects and transmission from
grandparent to parent and parent to children. This approach on social mobility
establishes bridges for grandparent and grandchildren in terms of transmission
of grandparent’s position to grandchildren (Mare, 2011). According to three
generational social mobility researches, grandchildren’s social positions are
directly affected by grandparents’ social positions besides parental effects on
their offspring. Indeed, social mobility patterns for two generations such as
parent-child pair can have same patterns for three generational social class mobility
and grandparent’s social class can be transmitted to next two generation, to
their grandchildren and for Hertel and Groh-Samberg (2013), grandparent’s
resources and their social class position can be impact on their grandchildren
as mechanisms for three generational social mobility. Firstly, grandparent’s
resources which can have social, cultural and economic dimensions, may have an
impact on grandchildren’s social class and educational achievement,
independently from mediation of parents. For instance, inheritance from
grandparents can be directly transferred to grandchildren and it could be
economic capital for high level education like getting degree from private colleges
and by this way economic capital of grandparents can be both resource for
economic and cultural capital to grandchildren. Moreover, cultural capital as
second resource of grandparents can have an influence on grandchildren’s future
decisions, skills, knowledge and academic positions. That is why grandparental
effect on children indicates that three generational social mobility can be
possible and grandparents also have an impact on transmission of resources to
the children apart from nuclear family (Hertel and Groh-Samberg 2013). Secondly,
class position of grandparents can be reference frame to understand
intergenerational social mobility. From multigenerational class mobility
approach, grandparental effect on class position can be significant and
reference frame for both parent and grandchildren. Class that determines social
positions in public place might be transferred to generations from older
generations. Social and cultural reproduction theory of Bourdieu asserts that societies
should be studied as systems of cultural and economic productions since they
can exist by producing cultural and economic capitals and the next generations
can be able to survive with this produced symbolic, social, economic and
cultural capitals (Nash, 1990). Bourdieu uses the term habitus to analyze inequality and cultural power upon lower classes
and he says that habitus as a property
of social groups or institutions can help to shape this group’s present and the
future practices or moves which means that is way or tendency of thinking and
acting. Our habitus makes us to think
and move and habitus can be
understood as a tool to explain implicit rules dictating our behaviors,
decisions, practices that are structured by socially. Social classes as social
fact structures habitus, from this
perspective, for instance, lower class adults might  tend to get working class jobs whereas middle-upper
class kids tend to choose private and/or high level universities (Maton, 2008).
Apart from habitus, he explains
different forms of capitals helped to understand social stratification and
inequality between different social classes such as economic and cultural
capital more importantly. Forms of capitals differ in different social classes,
economic capital can obviously differ that splits the classes because of unequal
income distribution, but cultural capital like being familiar with particular,
not all, kind of literature as reader, hanging out certain places, taking
coffee with a Dostoyevsky book and so on shows your cultural capital and he
claims that cultural capital can vary from social class to another one. For
future decisions, academic life, business environment and all cultural
practices that are shaped by joint of habitus
and cultural capital will put individuals/groups/institutions in a certain position
and social structure of society can be established with reproduction of
difference. Bourdieu’s perspective of cultural theory of power and social
reproduction are obviously associated with intergenerational social mobility of
inequality since this approach is able to explain cultural and economic
transmission as a significant process for intergenerational family reproduction
(Nash, 1990). I assume that inequality of income characterizing social classes
in terms of economic dimension and educational attainment to high level universities
or colleges are associated with each other and intergenerational transmission
of sources from older generations to next generation makes this inequality
alive. Economic and cultural resources of the families including grandparental
effects could be passed down to grandchildren and educational attainment can
differ across different social classes. First of all, accessing higher
education can differ in diversified class positions transmitted grandchildren
from grandparent in multigenerational way. Economic-oriented social classes
based on income from grandparents to parents and parents to children have an
important reason why accessing higher education is not equal for every single
individual. According to Great Gatsby Curve using variety of tools to measure
intergenerational mobility and income inequality from cross-nationally
comparable data, financial resources play significant role in accessing
education and there is strong relation between income inequality and
intergenerational mobility. That is to say, inequality from parents can exist
and pass down to next generation according to some scholars as well as they
shows that parental education have impact on their offspring’s future earnings
( Jerrim and Macmillan, 2014). Further, individuals get income from their assets
like capitals, skills and networks from family. Forms of capital that I
mentioned before as a remarkable dynamic passing down to generations and
reproduced are fact for earning or getting a job in a certain position like
education of parents as well as grandparents, their social capital referred to strong
networks or affiliation between some individuals, institutions and groups as
symbolic capital affect children’s future position in academy, business
environment (Perez-Arce, Amaral, Huang and Price). For instance, admission to
one of the Ivy League Universities  have
multigenerational effects since a student from a family whose parents did not
get degree from one of these universities but his/her  grandfather attended one of them before, has
high level of getting admission to be a part of these Ivy League colleges
(Mare, 2011).

 In order to cover all approaches related with
intergenerational mobility, resource transmission from generations to following
generations, inequality and finally education attainment of the children, I
assert that accessing the high level education is not equal for children from
different socioeconomic backgrounds. This is because, transmitted resources
that can be income transmission or wealth such as inheritance from grandparents
or parents to children, cultural capital making children have certain kind of
skills, knowledge regarding their cultural capital level and class surely and
social capital included networks, social ties between groups, individuals and
institutions making children accessing education more easily because of getting
to know by social connections, matter parents and grandparents, indeed  those children born from relatively wealthier
or poorer families do not have same opportunity to achieve same positions with
different children from different social classes. This linkages ensure to
correlate transmission of resources containing income and even skills and
inequality of opportunity with intergenerational class mobility (Perez-Arce,
Amaral, Huang and Price, 2016). Children’s occupational skills, educational
level, decisions about academic life, status and even neighborhood could be
transmitted from family, parents or in three generational approach including
grandparents, all are might have been determined already independently from
children because of effects of structural effects of families’ socioeconomic
position in society since tendencies for actions for further life are
structured from structures like family and so, inequality of opportunity, in
accessing high level education, can pass down to next generations and intergenerational
class mobility can be a mechanism for lasting inequality. Therefore, parents or/and
grandparents matter for children’s future life.

Data and Method

 I compromise my data from literature to see the
relation between intergenerational mobility and inequality in accessing
education. In order to provide this connection, I had covered 10 different
articles related with intergenerational social mobility, three generational social
class mobility, transmission of income, inequality of opportunity, income
inequality and education. Moreover, I have tried to make my argument stronger
by basing upon a theory from Bourdieu which is social and cultural reproduction.
This theory is extremely significant to relate my argumentation with
intergenerational class mobility and inequality for education. From
sociological literature for intergenerational relations in life course, I will
examine some related examples from cross-national data including income
transmission, micro-class mobility, inequality of opportunity for both two and
three generational perspective in order to analyze parental and grandparental
effects. Specifically, I will try to explain and analyze Germany for income/wealth/capital
transmission to next generation and differential opportunity for education and
whether or in what extend accessing education can differ for children from
different social classes in Germany.

 Apart from data, I am doing secondary research
analysis to create my research paper which means that I will use articles written
before my paper. By this methodology, I planning to generate my research paper
with significant and related thoughts from sociological literature about
intergenerational social mobility and inequality in accessing education.

Germany case on intergenerational
transmission of education

 Some studies of multigenerational relations
and mobility on educational attainment in cross-national analysis indicate that
in some extend grandparents can play crucial role in transmission of resources
to children even though majority of studies claim that there are no net
grandparental effects on children for educational attainment or occupational decisions
and class mobility rather than transmission from parents. However, for Germany
case, besides Hertel and Groh-Samberg’s research on three generational social
mobility (2014), Andrea Ziefle shows empirical evidence for Germany on
grandparental effects for the further generations. She argues that grandparents
as members of extended family’ resources in indirectly way and caregiving, discipline
for children’s homework and other kinds of social support that could be done by
parents can follow the same patterns for grandparents who provide direct and
indirect cultural, economic, social resources for their grandchildren except
for just nuclear family. In the some extend that nuclear family or parents’
lack of sources for educational attainment or occupational aspirations,
grandparents can have a role in take on transmission of education advantage and
resources make this advantage possible (Ziefle, 2016). According to her study,
if current generation respondents means children from downwardly mobile parents
are succeeded in school rather than others from same level of parental
education, grandparents can have an impact on transmitted cultural resources
through parent and refers that children can get benefit or advantage from
family that has generated relatively rich academic environment. This study
shows downward educational mobility in both East and West Germany (Ziefle,

 Apart from empirical evidence, some scholars
indicates that education system in Germany had changed over time by
governmental regulations in terms of accessing high level education since before
reforms of education system, after Basic School or Hauptschule, students can be able to register Middle or Advanced
School, Mittelschle. In order to
strengthen the equality of well-educated students, this system had been changed
with reforms and system become more public for every student, especially for
relatively poor students to provide relatively and partly equal chances to be
able to achieve high level education. Even though some regulations are done for
more equal education, Heineck and Riphahn (2007), claims that parental
education is still significant because outcomes in attainment to high level
education or Advanced School indicates that students from a family who got
degree from an Advanced School are following the same patterns in education
whereas students coming from a family got degree from Basic School are getting
degree from the Basic School. About 50 percentage of positive correlation
between parents and children educational transmission is so high for
educational mobility and interventions for equality of opportunity on education
remain behind the intergenerational mobility (Heineck and Riphahn, 2007). Furthermore,
one of the empirical researches says that stratified education system in
Germany could have an impact on children’s education but family of origin
affecting children’s cognitive ability and educational attainment more are more
correlated with educational inequality. They, the scholars, show more eclectic
point of view from both sociological literature and psychological literature
asserting that socioeconomic resources passed down to children are underlying
mediator of parental abilities and even their cognitive abilities which are
affected by social origin at are transmitting to their offspring. Researchers defend
that even though reforms are done for more equal education access, overall
system of education is strongly hierarchical and this strong stratification based
on social background offers to investigate parental background in that children
who is from a particular social origin is going to one of this schools
stratified in hierarchical system and how their ability and tendency embody
together by intergenerational transmission of parental cognitive ability
generated from resources. Briefly, scholars try to reveal that parental
education, occupation, social origin determining resources work via
transmission of ability and children access a school in stratified system by
this transmitted abilities, indeed children from different social background
tend to go different type of schools in Germany’s specific hierarchical
education system (Schulz, Schunck, Deiwald, Johnson, 2017).

 Social classes are unequally represented in
educational realm, especially in universities. Bourdieu says that educational
inequality is disposed of from distinction among social classes and these
diversified social strata appears unequally represented for higher education. His
study on educational opportunity and social origin shows that father’s
occupation have strongly impact on this offspring’s university entrance. He
thinks that chances to achieve higher education is an elimination process since
school systems are generated in unequal severity based on children’s social
origin which will passed down from father’s occupational position in the
context of France in 1961-62 according to his study. More advantaged classes
could access higher education and more precious branches, indeed in the eyes of
public, such as Medicine, Pharmacy and Law, whereas he students from more
disadvantaged groups could enroll for Art schools which is seen as second class
branch in the context of the society. Students could relegated from the least
privileged classes and social categorization may last through education
(Bourdieu, 1964). Briefly, social origin transmitted from family is factor to
access higher education and education system itself maintains these
categorization and inequality among students regarding their social
backgrounds. When we look back at the German education system and to apply
Bourdieu’s study to Germany, stratified school system for even to access
universities could differ for students from various social classes. There are a
few kind of higher education such as Hochschule
and Universitaet. It is not to
say, all students going to university rather than hochschule are from middle-upper classes but they have some
parental effects in terms of economic, cultural and  social resources in achieving higher
education and these sources structuring habitus make students tend to go
regular university which is more prestigious based on research orientation and institution
of higher education based on more to subject not to theory. That is why Germany
can be suitable example in analyzing intergenerational social class mobility,
its effect on education and education’s itself to see the correlation between inequality
to achieve high level education.


  In my
research paper, I argue that intergenerational social class mobility and transmission
of resources in economic, cultural, social dimensions could be mechanisms
behind determining of educational future for children. I asserted that
inequality in accessing high level education and prestigious academic positions
after a successful school life can vary social class to another one. This is
because, resources regarding social classes from working class to middle upper
class have some particular qualities. That is to say, someone from a particular
class thinks, moves and acts according to his or her position. Each positons structure
the habitus and our habitus might determine our tendencies, abilities, skills
and even our taste which these all are effecting educational decisions and
positions like that accessing the university might be possible, natural or
impossible for individuals and their way of thinking structured by habitus.
Apart from this, social classes are generated by capitals such as economic as
well as cultural and social. Individuals embodied by structures of social
classes transfer this capitals to next generations and reproduce this capitals,
positions and individuals from next generation. By this way, reproduction can
be possible with parental as well as grandparental effects in multigenerational
point of view. As social origin of parents and grandparents determine their
children/grandchildren positions in future life for their academic life,
occupational aspiration and social status, children from different social
origins are not in the same level in accessing education and opportunity. That
is why, intergenerational transmission of resources, three generational social
class mobility and reproduction of socio-economic, socio-cultural capital have
extremely impact on children’s educational level.

 All in all, intergenerational relations including
children, parent, grandparent in terms of interactions, they all are associated
with each other and I thought that inequality of opportunity, unequal chances
in reaching education are also related to intergenerational relations and for
my research parents and even grandparents matter for their children.


Bourdieu, Pierre, 1964
“Selecting the Elect” in The Inheritors.
Pp 1-27.

Heineck, Guido and Regina T. Riphahn. 2009.
“Intergenerational Transmission of Educational Attainment in Germany – The Last
Five Decades.” Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik 229(1).

Hertel, Florian R. and Olaf Groh-Samberg.
2014. “Class mobility across three generations in the U.S. and Germany.” Research
in Social Stratification and Mobility 35:35–52.

Macmillan, L, & Jerrim, J 2015, ‘Income
inequality, intergenerational mobility, and the great gatsby curve: is
education the key?’, Social Forces,
no. 2, p. 505.

 Mare, Robert D. 2011. “A Multigenerational
View of Inequality.” Demography 48(1):1–23.

 Maton, Karl. n.d. “Habitus.” Pierre
Bourdieu 49–66.

 Nash, Roy. 1990. “Bourdieu on Education and
Social and Cultural Reproduction.” British Journal of Sociology of
Education 11(4):431–47.

 Perez-Arce, F, Amaral, E, Huang, H, &
Price, C 2016, ‘Inequality and Opportunity: The Relationship Between Income
Inequality and Intergenerational Transmission of Income’, Books at JSTOR, EBSCOhost,
viewed 18 January 2018.

 Schulz, Wiebke, Reinhard Schunck, Martin
Diewald, and Wendy Johnson. 2017. “Pathways of Intergenerational Transmission
of Advantages during Adolescence: Social Background, Cognitive Ability, and
Educational Attainment.” Journal of Youth and Adolescence 46(10):2194–2214.

 Ziefle, Andrea. 2016. “Persistent Educational
Advantage Across Three Generations: Empirical Evidence for Germany.” Sociological
Science 3:1077–1102.