No theory forbids me to say "Ah!" or "Ugh!", but it forbids me the bogus theorization of my "Ah!" and "Ugh!" - the value judgments. - Theodor Julius Geiger (1960)

Type and Mechanics of Social Fluctuation

Most studies of social mobility traditionally adopted a static approach, treating mobility as a point event, but recognition grew of the importance of considering time as part of dynamic analysis.

Three main limitations of static analysis are: (1) it treats mobility as a one-time event, (2) doesn't account for changes in social strata as mobility occurs, and (3) neglects structural changes in society that affect mobility. Dynamic analysis should consider mobility movements between all social strata, involve a detailed stratification model, and examine long-term dynamics involving multiple generations. Dynamic analysis explores factors such as fertility differences among social strata, recruitment rates, and mortality variations, although data on these factors is limited.

Factors like changes in the volume of professions over time and fertility rate differences should be considered.


Social Fluctuation involves the movement of individuals between specific strata in a society. This concept is rooted in historical and typological contexts. Social fluctuation can be complex and affected by changing social values and subjective judgments. The traditional view of ascent and descent within social mobility has to be challenged. Career advancement within the same stratum is common, often determined by an individual's starting point and potential for success. Movements between strata are rarer and more likely in fields like politics or economic organizations. Social ambition is a driving force behind social movements, often leading to a leveling of social differences rather than the replacement of one stratum by another. There is a dynamic interaction between new individuals entering certain strata and this influences both their status and the status of the stratum itself.


A dual perspective in sociology, combining top-down (structural) and bottom-up (individual) views, is necessary for a comprehensive understanding of social phenomena. This approach acknowledges the interdependence of individuals and society. Ideology can lead to distorted views of social mobility, where individuals may attribute their social status to factors like natural talent rather than acknowledging class privilege. Distinguishing between personal and generational transitions can be ambiguous, as factors like marriage and career choices can impact an individual's social status. The prestige of a stratum depends on the evaluation of its function, which can change over time and influence mobility patterns.


Geiger, T. (1955), Typologie und Mechanik der gesellschaftlichen Fluktuation, in: W. Bernsdorf und G. Eisermann (Ed.), Die Einheit der Sozialwissenschaften – Franz Eulenberg zurm Gedächtnis, Stuttgart: Ferdinand Enke, pp. 84-116.