Archive for April 7th, 2014

Quote notes (#71)

F. Roger Devlin reviews Gregory Clark’s latest book The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility at American Renaissance:

China, which saw enormous social upheaval in the 20th century, provides yet another perspective. Under Mao, much of the country’s elite was killed or exiled. The rest were subject to discrimination and excluded from the Communist Party. During the Cultural Revolution, Mao tried to turn the social scale upside down by shipping prominent people to the countryside to work in rice paddies. If political intervention can create higher social mobility, it would have done so in China.

Yet once discrimination against “class enemies” was abolished shortly after Mao’s death, those with surnames characteristic of the pre-communist elite quickly began to rise again. Today, they are greatly over-represented even in the Communist Party. Those descended from the “workers and peasants” favored under Mao have quickly seen their status erode. Recent social mobility in China has been no greater than it was under the Emperors.

Anyone who doesn’t find their presuppositions shaken by Clark’s work is probably not paying attention. If those out here in the NRx think it conforms neatly to their expectations that heredity is strongly determining of social outcomes — are they comfortable proceeding to evidence-based acknowledgement that socio-economic regime-type seems entirely irrelevant to the (uniformly low) level of social mobility? Clark himself draws the curve-ball conclusion: so why not be a social democrat? It’s not as if rational incentives make any difference anyway.

(I’ll be looking for the opportunity to dig into this stuff at least a little, as soon as I catch a moment.)

April 7, 2014admin 18 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Discriminations , Political economy