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Moving Up without Losing Your WayThe Ethical Costs of Upward Mobility$
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Jennifer Morton

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691179230

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691179230.001.0001

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Situating Ethical Costs in Context

Situating Ethical Costs in Context

(p.43) 2 Situating Ethical Costs in Context
Moving Up without Losing Your Way

Jennifer M. Morton

Princeton University Press

This chapter argues that ethical costs are unfairly leveled on students born into disadvantage for three contingent reasons: socioeconomic segregation, an inadequate safety net, and cultural mismatch. It shows how several of the ethical costs strivers face are not a necessary feature of striving itself but are instead dependent on how opportunities are unequally distributed in the United States. The chapter explains how strivers are more likely to bear ethical costs in a society that suffers from socioeconomic segregation, inadequate safety net, and cultural forces that privilege those who are already otherwise advantaged. It talks about how strivers are liable to face tragic conflict more frequently than those who are better off because of the socioeconomic structures into which they are born. It also points out ethical costs that are embedded in larger social, economic, and cultural structures that do not occur in a vacuum and affect everyone equally.

Keywords:   upward mobility, ethical cost, socioeconomic segregation, safety net, cultural mismatch, strivers

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