A closed system of mobility is that where norms prescribe mobility. Thus the closed system emphasizes the associative character of the hierarchy. It justifies the inequality in the distribution of means of production status symbols and power positions and discourages any attempt to change them. Any attempt to bring about changes in such a system or to promote mobility is permanently suppressed. In such a system individuals are assigned their place in the social structure on the basis of ascriptive criteria like age, birth, sex.Considerations of functional suitability or ideological notions of equality of opportunity are irrelevant in deciding the positions of individuals to different statuses. However no system in reality is perfectly close. Even in the most rigid systems of stratification limited degree of mobility exists. Traditional caste system in India is an example of closed system.
In the open system the norms prescribed and encourage mobility. There are independent principles of ranking like status, class and power. In and open system individuals are assigned to different positions in the social structure on the basis of their merit or achievement. Open systems mobility is generally characterized with occupational diversity, a flexible hierarchy, differentiated social structure and rapidity of change. In such systems the hold of ascription based corporate groups like caste, kinship or extended family etc declines. The dominant values in such a system emphasize on equality and freedom of the individual and on change and innovation.
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