‘There is still a class of menials and a class of masters, but these classes are not always composed of the same individuals, still less of the same families; and those who command are not more secure of perpetuity than those who obey—At any moment a servant may become a master, and he aspires to rise to that condition’. This view of social mobility in North America by Alexis de Tocqueville in 1840 has been the predominant perception almost to the present. Only after the Second World War did two basically different arguments emerge. On the one hand, historians of social mobility in nineteenth-century American and European cities, such as Boston, Marseille, and Bochum came to the tentative conclusion that rates of upward social mobility were in fact higher in the United States than in Europe and that this was especially true for upward mobility from the working-class into non-manual occupations. In effect, their assessments corroborated the assertion which Tocqueville had made more than a century ago. The explanation for these differences, historians argued, was to be found in the values of the European working class: a strong traditional commitment to the occupational heredity, or the beginnings of class consciousness, kept European workers from using chances of social ascent into non-manual occupations much more than American workers. On the other hand, Seymour M. Lipset and Reinhard Bendix have claimed that social mobility becomes similarly high in all societies, once a certain degree of industrialization and economic expansion has been reached. The idea behind this argument is that rates of social mobility depend on economic development and changes of occupational structure, which both follow the same basic pattern in Europe and North America. Whilst the empirical evidence for this assessment depends on post-1945 studies of social mobility in America and Europe, there are grounds for projecting the argument back to the late nineteenth century. First, if economic development does lead to similar mobility rates, this effect should have emerged by the end of the era of industrialization. Secondly, studies of the trend of social mobility in the United States as well as in various European countries show the same long term stability of rates of social mobility since the late nineteenth century. Hence, if rates of social mobility were similar after the Second World War, and if the long term trend was similar too, mobility rates at the end of the era of industrialization cannot have differed much.