Myths and Realities Surrounding Upward Economic and Social Mobility

Myths and Realities Surrounding Upward Economic and Social Mobility

The beliefs surrounding one’s ability to attain upward social and economic mobility is quite numerous and, sometimes, daunting. Some of them have been in existence for so long that we don’t even know their origin. Some are practical while others seem so unrealistic. But then, it is hard to determine the ones that are real and those that are myths.

It is the desire of every human to achieve economic and financial stability and independence. We all want to belong to the upper class. Some people were born into that class while others worked their way up. There are those that had wealth thrown their way while there are others that achieved it. The dream of everybody is to be among the decision makers in the society.

However, social and economic mobility is not an easy feat to achieve. In most cases, the ability of a person to move up the scale depends on the culture of his society. If it’s in a society where democracy is practiced freely, the son of nobody can become a king tomorrow. But in an aristocratic community, it is almost impossible for a person to change his social class unless certain circumstances warranted that.

That notwithstanding, many ideologies surrounding a person’s ability to move up the social ladder are in existence. As mentioned earlier, it is hard to determine whether some of these beliefs are factual or not because empirical studies are yet to be conducted on most of them. However, people already believe in these ideologies and have been applying them in their pursuit for better living.

Some of these ideologies are:

Children from working class homes cannot move into the upper class: This philosophy is refuting the belief that nobody can become a king tomorrow. Well, in as much as sociologists believe so much in this philosophy, they need to understand that it is not attainable everywhere. In Igbo communities for instance, children of paupers can become presidents of the country tomorrow. People that believe in this ideology already have it in them that they can’t move higher than where they are; they always settle for less because they never envision themselves attaining higher heights.

Associating with the upper class automatically brings about an upward mobility: This ideology is true, but it does not work in all cases. It is actually true that the type of people you associate with influences you but when it comes to wealth and class, the formula changes. I will do my best to explain this.

There are some rich people that are willing to pull others up and there are those that want everybody to serve them. The people in the first category type are mentors while those in the second category are, well, godfathers and “masters”. A mentor will help you to grow while a godfather wants you to forever remain his ‘boy’. If you find yourself in the midst of mentors, and they belong to the upper class, just know that your bread has been buttered. But if the people you mingle with are those that want you around because you fan their ego, just know it that you are not going anywhere.

Savings make people rich: Savings doesn’t make people rich; but lack of it can make people poor. Savings only saves people on a rainy day. Saving is actually there to save you from trouble. It is there to keep you away from begging. It does not increase your income because it involves keeping a part of your income. If a person’s income is small, his savings will reflect that; if his income is huge, his savings will be huge. However, his income has not increased. So if his income didn’t place him among the rich, his savings won’t do that. And if inflation steps in, it will attack whatever amount he left in the bank.

This is not to discourage people from saving from their earnings because it helps a lot. But it will be good if people realised that they should consider how to increase their income by finding better sources of income than believing that the money they put away in the bank will make them rich. But then, investing their savings can change the game plan.

Social class and economic status are preordained: In Igbo tradition, it is believed that people cannot get wealthy if their “chi” did not destine it – that is, wealth comes from divine intervention. It is believed that no matter how hard you tried, if it is already destined that you will remain poor, or that you and your “chi” are not in good terms, you cannot run away from poverty. This is why you hear statements like “O nwere ajo chi” (he has an ill fate but literally meaning that “he has a bad chi”), “chi m ekwero” (my chi did not agree with the decision), “chi na-enye aku” (chi gives wealth), “aku si na chi” (wealth comes from chi, that is wealth is preordained) and so many others. This ideology may have worked in the past because people were expected to work hand in hand with divine beings in whatever they do in the world (in other words, they worked hard and still consulted the oracle for guidance and permission). But from what we can see these days, a lot of people use this as excuses to remain unproductive.

No one can make it in Nigeria by staying legit: This ideology is borne out of the high rate of corrupt and illegal practices in Nigeria. This, sometimes, makes people believe that the reason they’re not moving up that social class ladder is because they’re doing honest jobs. This ideology is difficult to dispel because many Nigerian rich men and women have stories of illegal dealings trailing them. However, there are still some out there that must have made their money in a clean way, I believe.

There are so many other myths out there concerning wealth creation. But what matters is that you need to sieve through what you heard to be able to differentiate the myths from the realities. Wealth creation, as far as I know, is a skill. And to acquire any skills, you have to learn from those that have it. There are two ways of achieving that: finding a mentor and participating in training that will expose you how others have been doing.

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