Development of the conception of economic inequality: II. Explanations, justifications, and concepts of social mobility and change Academic Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Bipolar Disorder


  • 720 6-, 11-, 14-, and 17-yr-olds from 4 social classes were interviewed about their concepts of economic inequality. Adolescents were more likely than children to explain and justify inequality by referring to equity and were more fatalistic in their conceptions of change and in justifying wealth and poverty. Younger Ss were more likely than adolescents to claim that individual mobility and social change could be achieved through others giving money and less likely to say that social change could be achieved by changing the social structure. Upper-middle-class Ss were more likely than others to claim that poverty cannot be changed and that poverty is due to equity or wasting money, and less likely than lower-class Ss to claim that the poor should not suffer. Lower-class 17-yr-olds were more likely than any other group to claim that the rich would resist social change. Blacks were less likely than Whites to claim that poverty is due to bad luck or fate. Findings are discussed in terms of cognitive-developmental trends, functionalist effects, and conflict theory. (34 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved). © 1983 American Psychological Association.

publication date

  • January 1983



  • Academic Article


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/0012-1649.19.1.111

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 111

end page

  • 125


  • 19


  • 1