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Status and prestige : motivational factors in residential mobility. Pape, Siegfried Willy

Abstract

The problem of creating stable and healthy urban communities and efficient land use planning is related to the problem of reducing residential mobility. Residential mobility has been defined as "the mechanism by which a family's housing is brought into adjustment to its housing needs". However, it must also be seen as a method of coping with a variety of social, physical and economic problems which, furthermore, create additional problems. Residential mobility is a reflection of the instability prevailing in our urban society and, at the same time, a contribution to it. There is some evidence that residential mobility promotes mental ill-health, undesirable social conditions, and appears to be the cause of certain urban planning problems. The purpose of this Thesis is to analyse some of the motivational factors in residential mobility and to investigate the possibility of reducing mobility and instability by providing housing which may satisfy a family's changing housing needs and by creating neighborhoods which assist in the formation of integrated communities. The contention of this Thesis is that apart from a family's desire to adjust housing to its functional needs, it also has to adjust residence to changing status and prestige needs. It is assumed for certain groups in society that their vertical occupational mobility is the cause of their social mobility, and that members of these groups periodically adjust their residences primarily in order to satisfy their status and prestige needs. These persons become dissatisfied because of their changing socio-economic status, and although their need for segregation may be anticipated, the features which serve to satisfy their changing needs cannot be incorporated in one dwelling and one neighborhood; therefore, these persons have to move periodically. The investigation of the relationship between changing status needs and residential adjustment was confined to thirty-nine Middle Management persons employed by a local utility corporation. Attitudes, descriptions, reasons and factual data were obtained by means of an interview schedule. Attitudes and factual data were correlated in order to establish the individual's perception of the relationship between occupational, social and residential mobility. On the basis of ratings provided by the respondents, a "Status Hierarchy of Residential Areas" was developed which served to measure each respondent's "status increase". Subsequently, each person's reasons for moving from a residence and selecting a new residence were analysed, with special focus on the individual's concern with status and prestige. Finally, the results of each separate investigation were correlated and the number of persons were identified who moved for reasons of status and prestige. The results of the investigation indicate that a majority of the Middle Management group moved into their present or previous residences in order to adjust residences to their status and prestige needs. Furthermore, a greater number of persons were concerned with the qualities of the residential district rather than the house, as a symbol of their social status. In the final analysis, the author concludes residential mobility which is generated by social mobility of certain occupational groups cannot be reduced unless the value structure of this society is altered.

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