The role of Media in Social Mobility in Morocco

The role of Media in Social Mobility in Morocco

Farming is the only activity that Mohammed was taught to perform well since an early age. Even though he reached the forty’s, he has never thought previously about a job that might appeal him a lot! The reality is that Mohammed has been programmed to what he has to pursue, not to what he is willing to do. In other words, being a farmer is a form of heritage delegated by his father. Accordingly, Mohammed strongly believes that his primary duty is to devote his time to farming activity. Conversely, Mohamed’s son, Omar, supports another way of thinking. Rather, Omar has a different outlook of life: as he has always been a media consumer, he realized that there are careers future prospects to target. Gradually, he started nourishing the ambition of becoming an computer engineer. He considered reasonably that he ought to embark upon a career where he projects himself through it. As social mobility is a very common phenomenon, and as people are concerned about it, I judged relevant to orientate my study to “The role of media in social mobility in Morocco”. In other words, as there are numerous cases of people who dealt with “social mobility” within Morocco, I thought that it would be both interesting and appealing to give a tangible form to my research.

In the framework of media information, as technology has reshaped our perspective of both present and future in terms of job selection, I opted for this topic as one of the best fits in the media environment. Thus, the problematic questions I will be dealing with are the followings: “How does media give a boost to social mobility in Morocco? Also, what is the impact of media intervention in the framework of social mobility in Morocco?
Through my working process, I will be referring to concrete cases of social mobility that some Moroccan families witnessed. In addition, as our parents got in touch with the media sphere starting from the 1960’s, they are prominently the ones concerned about the social mobility phenomenon; thus, they would be extremely helpful in terms of providing us useful and precious information. Besides, through my research, I am intending to conduct interviews with some successful people who were raised in a very modest environment, and experts in sociology who would provide me statistics of social mobility cases within Morocco.

As a researcher, and as a student who has the privilege to education, I thought that it would be really stimulating to explore in depth the relationship between social mobility and media in Morocco. In this way, as it is a social topic that involves both media and technology, I considered as valuable for myself to investigate about the causes, the types as well as the impacts of social mobility through media within our country.
First, it is crucial to define in depth the concept of social mobility, before answering the highlighted questions that relate social mobility to media. Indeed, the Britannica Online Encyclopedia defines “social mobility” as “the movement of individuals, families or groups through a system of social hierarchy or stratification.” In other words, social mobility allows individuals to move from one social status to another, at the level of job orientation. In the past fifty years, young adults started to orientate themselves in a field that is completely different from the one their fathers used to work in. For instance, in the previous century, a farmer would prompt his son to carry on farming. At that time, job status was considered as a sort of heritage transmitted from father to son. However, thanks to the so-called “social mobility”, there was a boost in job orientation in the way that young adults refused to follow their fathers’ job. An illustrative example would be when a young adult settles on becoming an architect while his or her father sells and buys lands.

Second, there are different types of social mobility that people within society witness. There is what the sociologists call “the intra-generational mobility” consisting of a move from one social category to another one. Similarly, what the sociologists qualify as the “intergenerational” mobility consists of moving from the social category of the father to another one. Therefore, it takes as reference the father’s status to define the son’s status. Moreover, sociologists distinguish two types of social mobility: “the vertical” mobility, where the son moves from one social category to a highest one or a lowest one. We call it also ascendant mobility. Likewise, the second type of mobility is known as the “horizontal mobility”, where the social position held by someone neither reflect a move upward nor downward.

Now that we have defined “social mobility” as well as its characteristics and types, we will explore the role of media and technology in fostering and prompting ascendant social mobility. First of all, let’s remind that before the advent of the principal media means (newspapers, radio, satellites, television as well as internet), the era of post industrialization, as stated by Sarossi George, contributed tremendously in social mobility since it prompted people to be oriented toward the “service industry” field. Indeed, in his article on cultural and media studies, Tager Michele claims that “soap operas” are very influential in our day to day life in the sense that they construct a vision of a “better life”, where people could be fulfilled. In this way, the consumers of soap operas do really believe that they ought to target higher positions within the society, as emphasized by Tager Michele. Besides, it has been highlighted by respectively Podolny Joel and Baron James that obtaining information via “networks” boosts mobility: “individual’s mobility is enhanced by having a large, sparse network of informal ties for acquiring information and resources.” In other words, networking is obviously regarded as a crucial tool to move from one social category to another. It is worth mentioning that if all social classes had access to media information, this would result in giving equal chances to each single member within the society, no matter from which social category he or she comes from. Indeed, allowing the access of media information to only a particular category would definitely hinder the chances for the other categories to move from one social category to another. Thus, in this term paper, I will attempt to show and highlight the way media intervenes in social mobility in Morocco. In this way, I conducted an interview with one hundred people who accepted to share with me the secret of their success in working for achieving an ascendant social mobility. These people in question belong to different age categories. More specifically, I selected three targeted age categories: the category of people that has an age comprised between 40-60 years old, the category of people whose age is comprised between 25-50 years old, and finally, the 19-30 year old age category. In this interview, I asked people whether media was considered as a crucial factor that helped them in their ascendancy or not. Let’s note that during my interview, I targeted people who are heavily using media in their day-to-day life and who declared that media in question played definitely a tremendous role in their career future prospects. As a result, media served them a lot in seeking for a job and holding a good position within the society. Also, the people that I interviewed declared that media had a great impact on their professional life.

The previous pie reveals that among the 100 hundred people interviewed, 60% claimed that internet was an indisputable tool that helped them to move socially, compared to 25% who succeeded in holding respectful job positions thanks to newspapers and magazines. Finally, only 15% of my interviewees asserted that TV and radio were both factors and tools that prompt them to achieve a certain position within the society.
The following pie summarizes the job orientation of 15 out of 100 people that I have interviewed, in comparison to their father’s job, who resorted to TV and radio as principal media means to achieve these positions. Let’s emphasize that their social category age is between 40 and 60 years old.
To discuss, my conducted interview helped me a lot in analyzing the media penetration in social mobility. Indeed, as we have previously observed in the pies provided earlier, in each social category age, there is a specific media type that worked basically as tool to prompt people moving from one social category to another one, or choose a job orientation that is different from the parent one. When conducting my interview, I asked some of my family members, as they are older and as they belong to my parents’ generation. I noticed that one century ago, more precisely, in the beginning of the 19’s, man’s jobs orientation were extremely limited. Let’s put emphasis on the fact that woman used to stay at home and were still not involved in the job market at that time. Also, it is worth reminding that our grand fathers used to work either in administrations or used to be involved in lands trade. It is only after a couple years that young adults of the 1940’s 1950’s started thinking about studies in medicine. Thus, they broke the tradition of pursuing the father’s job. Later on, when our fathers heard about engineering studies overseas thanks to newspaper and radio, they took the initiative to study abroad so that they would ultimately come up with a new way of thinking in terms of jobs orientation in Morocco. Therefore, they managed successfully how to move upward from the social category of their father to a higher one. Then, the advent of internet has reshaped the world of jobs orientation and has encouraged easily social mobility. Indeed, it is much easier nowadays to climb the social ladder thanks to internet than in fifty years ago. In this way, I would propose to raise a concrete example: our cleaning lady has two children that are currently young adults. One of them was deeply passionate about English language and ended up learning it through MBC 4 and MBC 3 channel. Similarly, he resorted to internet so as to find out a way to travel to the United States. Thanks to internet and thanks to his participation to the green card lottery, he succeeded in “imposing his place” within the society. As he wished, he is now in the United States working in a hotel.

To conclude, my research paper was basically aiming at providing sufficient proofs to support the idea that media definitely plays a role in encouraging the upward move of individuals from one social category to another, in reference to the father’s one. Indeed, both my internet research and my conducted interview confirmed my assumption: “media is obviously intervening in social mobility, as it prompts individuals to choose a position that is by far better than the father’s one”. As we have seen previously, the main media means that function as a tool to move from one social category to another are TV, radio, newspapers and magazines, as well as internet. Let’s note that recently, internet has contributed tremendously in jobs interaction, as people who consult it on a daily basis could definitely explore the opportunities that internet offers in terms of scholarships, grants and even career openings. In this way, don’t you think that media are not only part of our daily activities but start even to be indispensable to each single decision we make or that we are intending to make? Don’t you think that media has redefined the world of careers in the sense that there are various fields to opt for, in contrast to five decades ago?

There is no denying that media meets the standards of a tool that fosters social mobility, as we can consider media a direct intermediary between the person willing to hold a good position within the society and the real world. It is true that there is a persistent gap between social categories as they are stratified; nevertheless, the access of media and the exploration of opportunities contributed heavily in reducing that gad. Also, it is true that social categories will never be on an equal footing; however, I strongly believe that using media efficiently would absolutely help in climbing gradually the social ladder.

- “Social mobility.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2011. Web. 9 July 2011.
- "Mobilité sociale." Banque de Ressources Interactives en Sciences Economiques et Sociales. CRDP académie de Lyon, Web.
- Critical Arts: A South-North Journal of Cultural & Media Studies; 2010, Vol. 24 Issue 1, p99-127, 29p
- Podolny, Joel M.; Baron, James N.. American Sociological Review, Oct97, Vol. 62 Issue 5, p673-693, 21p, 1 Diagram, 3 Charts.
- Sarossy, George. Statistical Journal of the UN Economic Commission for Europe, 1996, Vol. 13 Issue 3, p233, 21p, 8 Charts.
- "Interview conducted on dozens of people." 07 July 2011. (in Al Akhawayn University and in Casablanca).