Intragenerational Mobility: Definition & Overview

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  • 0:02 Intragenerational Mobility
  • 1:15 Intergenerational Vs.…
  • 1:54 Examples
  • 2:59 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Intragenerational mobility refers to changes in someone's social mobility throughout the course of his or her lifetime. Learn the definition of intragenerational mobility, how it differs from intergenerational mobility, and more in this lesson.

Intragenerational Mobility

Trenton is a young man born into a middle-class family in a nice suburban community. When Trenton is five, his father loses his job and has to sell the family home. Trenton and his family move in with his grandparents, and Trenton starts playing the guitar. Trenton continues to practice and joins a rock band in his teen years. Shortly after his 21st birthday, Trenton's band gets a record deal and Trenton becomes an international rock star. Trenton plays and travels with his band until he is 50. Trenton then retires to teach guitar courses at a performing arts university. This is an example of intragenerational mobility.

So, what do we mean by intragenerational mobility? Intragenerational mobility refers to social mobility that takes place during one's lifespan. Social mobility refers to any movement in a social hierarchy system. In the previous example, we saw Trent go from being a child born into a middle-class family to a poor child living with his grandparents, to a teenager in a rock band, and then to an international rock star. The final stage of Trent's social mobility saw him retire and begin a career as a professor.

Intergenerational vs. Intragenerational Mobility

Suppose that Trenton's grandparents were immigrants from a foreign country who spent most of their lifetimes working factory jobs so that Trenton's parents could go to school. As adults, Trenton's parents were able to get college degrees and both became teachers. Trenton's mother later retired to be a stay-at-home mom. Trenton was able to develop his skills as a guitar player and become an international star and multi-millionaire. This is an example of intergenerational mobility. We can think of intragenerational mobility as social movement within the same lifespan or generation, while intergenerational mobility is social movement between different generations.

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