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Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Social Mobility

The Big Idea for Wednesday, June 05, 2013

While some people defy the odds and rise from rags to riches, in today's lesson Steven Mazie points to sociological research that shows your chances of success in life are a function of the circumstances of your birth. As inequality has grown in the past thirty years, this problem is more pronounced today than ever before. 

In other words, as Mazie writes, this is an old story. But "what’s new is the size of the gap, the degree of influence family wealth has on the life prospects of children."



  1. 1 The Problem With Rich Kids
    Steven Mazie Praxis
  2. 2 Social Mobility is More Important Than Equality
    Niall Ferguson In Their Own Words
  3. 3 Who Wants to Run the World?
    David Rothkopf
  4. 4 Can an Unequal Society Become Sustainable?
    Kate Pickett

Social Mobility

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