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Upward Mobility
Does it still exist? Even as a distraction?

(I "have" to allude to real world politics and political systems in order to frame this discussion. Please do not use that as an invitation to dive down the political rabbit hole and derail this thread.)

They say that a trapped rat is the most dangerous.

They say that those with nothing to lose will take risks that they otherwise would never take.

Thorough-out history societies have faced major upheavals (revolutions) when the oppressed majority have reached the breaking point. The French revolution is the typical example.

In America, the promise of being able to improve one's position in life is fundamental to society. It is the dream that keeps parents working hard to give their children opportunity. It is what draws immigrants to the country. It is also what prevents the masses from turning on the 1%.

The lack of upward mobility creates social unrest. Heavy handed policing predictably leads to riots every few decades.

This brings us to Withmore.

Is upward mobility even part of the theme?

Do the corporations dangle the carrot of a better life in front of the masses to keep them docile?

Do corporations need to maintain the illusion that hard work in the Mix could lead to a more comfortable life topside?

Does the media need to craft content that furthers the illusion of the "Average Citizen" making it big? (Even if "big" is nothing more than a cramped apartment with 6 people in a corporate high rise and a steady Grid connection so the kids can get an "education".)

Or is it just Jack Boots and Jake Enforcer IIs? Kicks to the teeth and bullets to the brain pans of anyone who grumbles about inequality?

(I ask this because my perception is that this is ill defined. The lack of definition leads to diametrically opposed roleplay around the divide.)

opinion incoming, take this with a grain of salt

If corporations have to maintain the illusion of advancement, then every PubSIC tirade from a corporate citizen about Mixers being subhuman could potentially be the straw that breaks the camel's back and kicks off the latest round of rioting.

If oppression is the norm, then Gold is much too safe in its current iteration. It should be more like the occupied territories.

Corpies looking over their shoulders nervously every time the E7 arrives from the Red sector. Fearful that today it is their turn to take a few 6mm slugs to the back, or a bat to the side of the head.

WJF Guards hoping that they survive long enough to get promoted to the safety of Green, where they are not expected to hold back the masses with just a baton.

CorpSec agents hoping that their charges are content to eat lunch on company property, or that they don't have any meetings on the other side of the sector today.

I think in the genre as a whole the answer overall is 'no', I think mainly of the contrast between the Rastafarian colony on Zion and the interbred eugenicist dynasty of Tessier-Ashpool on the Villa Straylight as showing how class had become extremely stratified to the point of being totally alien to one another.

However Withmore is kind of unusual in that it has a class distinction (topside versus Mixer) which has zero meaning anywhere else in the world. Further corporate class gets a little fuzzy in the game because there's only so many players, and really only the 'bottom' of society is seen, while the 'leisure' class of the hereditary infinite wealthy mostly undepicted.

So I think in that sense, a character's class is ultimately where they are at any moment out of gameplay necessity, but in general the theme would seem to depict the corporations encouraging citizens to better themselves by working for the corporation, but none of these characters will ever rise beyond the level of a suit wearing chains of a different kind.

Actually, no. Lots of places have very specific class distinctions unique only to that place, that was probably not a good thing to describe as being unique to Withmore.
@0x1mm said

in general the theme would seem to depict the corporations encouraging citizens to better themselves by working for the corporation

This is my perception of the theme as well. The corporations have to maintain the message that upward mobility is possible and encouraged. Without it, society becomes too difficult to imagine.

What does everyone else think?

The entire existence of Withmore's generous, no-questions-asked immigration policy would seem to support that.
Yes and no, I think. Small picture; grooming immigrants, or anyone, for your benefit is par for the course. In the grand scheme, there will never be enough space for every citizen to go corporate, and someone has to shovel the bergs.

Mixers are fighting claw and teeth for these positions, and corporations aren't hurting for staff. Even their wage slaves are wage slaves because they give zero shits whether you live or die as long as you produce profit for them.

That said, it's awesome to imagine corporations pitching this mentality even as corporate members belittle, kill, and use mixers. Like, the American dream is dead, but it's still pitched as the goal. It placates the people to some extent and gives them something better to strive for.

Hope. The underfoot masses need some kind of hope that with enough effort, they can improve their lot in life.