Will there be traditional social mobility in 2021 and beyond?
One of the key things that I highlighted in Market Dystopia is how the citizens of global cities compete relentlessly to increase their social standing. This tends to be the primary obsession that drives every individual who is trying to "make it" in the artificial arenas that have ruled the world throughout the history of globalisation. "It" can mean many things but most readers will agree that "It" basically amounts to the following : becoming successful, getting rich and showing one's achievements for social recognition. This in turn leads to a host of advantages such as belonging to the right groups and securing highly valuable expertise that will help create virtuous circles for the "competitors" and their children to keep prospering. How is "It" typically achieved? Well, simply put, there is a standard way, a few extreme ways and one old way. Let's take a look at each category.
The standard way is the following: study hard, earn degrees and PHDs, get in the job market and struggle to find an opening that will hopefully be good enough to establish a foundation that will pay off student loans and eliminate any financial dependence on parents. This has long been the prefered solution of the middle class. Its return on investment is heavily dependent on two things: the acquisition of skills that are desirable in a fast-evolving job market and sufficient economic growth to absorb the influx of graduates each year. There are of course other factors that must be considered but these two tend to be the big ones. Throwing young graduates with the wrong skills in a contracting job market is a surefire way to create huge problems. Will these problems go away in 2021? That's damn impossible. The Covid-19 pandemic will probably worsen these problems and what is essentially a minus-sum game will become even harder to manage. Does that mean that this solution is dead? Not at all, but more realistic assumptions must be made before applying it since this solution can no longer bring guarantess as it once did. Besides, the "office employee" is quickly disappearing. Those that can create value without needing the concentrated structure of an office will probably be the ones that will thrive.
Now for the extreme ways. This is the definition that I propose for them: the development or inheritance of attributes or skills that are so unique and desirable that they create their own markets. The position of those who possess this option is so off the charts that those involved need their own league to compete. Think of anyone who is exceptionally skilled or talented in one or several fields. By the way, I do not imply that those involved must be celebrities. There are millions of super-talented people that are completely anonymous and who are content to dominate their corner without making any noise. You only hear about them when you become interested in what they are doing. More often than not, their work and life routines tend to be radically different from those of the average person. I believe that these individuals will be the true winners in the post-pandemic world. They will chart their own trajectories and ascend quietly over the present decade.
And finally the old way: marry someone rich. Is that a cliché? Yes, but it has never been more relevant. In a world where most people are conditioned to look for shortcuts, you can bet that their convenient solution will be to latch on to a person that brings "security" especially if the economy is quickly deteriorating. By the way, there is nothing wrong with that. As one very cynical acquaintance told me: "Remember Ash, naive rich people need love too." Well, I guess that it's one thing that money cannot buy.
Ashley Boolell Market Dystopia is available in the Amazon Bookstore on the following links:
Intro video here