ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Cultural Capital, Reference Group, and Social Mobility in India

The article “Rags to Riches? Intergenerational Occupational Mobility in India” (EPW, 4 November 2017) by Iversen, Krishna and Sen examines intergenerational occupational mobility in India. This comment links this study with Krishna’s earlier contribution, “Making It in India: Examining Social Mobility in Three Walks of Life” (EPW, 7 December 2013), and interprets these works alongside Bourdieu’s (1986) and Merton’s (1949) established theories of social mobility.

In their article “Rags to Riches? Intergenerational Occupational Mobility in India” (EPW, 4 November 2017), Vegard Iversen, Anirudh Krishna and Kunal Sen have examined the process of intergenerational occupational mobility in India through the analysis of data from a large-scale survey called the India Human Development Survey (IDHS)–II, conducted in 2011–12 by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER).

Another article by Krishna (“Making It in India: Examining Social Mobility in Three Walks of Life” EPW, 7 December 2013), published almost four years earlier in this journal, articulates the various factors (both enabling and hindering), responsible for the social mobility of individuals coming from different social and economic backgrounds in India by looking at three occupational silos: engineering, business management, and civil service. This discussion aims at establishing a link between the above two articles by providing some theoretical supplements in the light of two established theories of social mobility: Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capital; and Robert K Merton’s theory of reference group.

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