A social climb
er is a person who moves, by their astute, machiavellian
capacities, from social clique
to social clique, hoist
ing themselves to an ever higher social status
As odd and seveteenth-century court this may seem, it happens a lot and all the time. Many people are social climbers without wanting to... even the least ambitious types and the least motivated, may well be trying to move to a higher circle. Watching a social climber can be both intensely interesting as well as deeply hurtful. I say intensely interesting because its like watching a ritual... a social climber may butt-kiss, give extra compliments to and make a great deal of effort to hang around with/be seen with the new clique of his/her choice. A clique may be considered of a higher social status for diverse reasons - maybe because the members are generally more bohemian, because maybe they are in a band, or maybe richer, may know all the right people, or perhaps simply more elitist and exclusive. The social climber will cleverly try to infiltrate this group of his liking... by dating a member of lesser status and lower expectations within the posse, or inviting them over to his/her house, or making sure they drop hints that they like the same obscure music/ trendy authors/ sense of humour as other mebers of the clique. A good social climber will be able to become a set member of the clique in a short while... but the typical social climber will in no way stop at this point - they will oftentimes use this new clique as a mere 'rung' in the ladder of prestige, and move on to higher, more dizzying heights through new contacts made.
To watch a social climber may be hurtful, if that social climber is one's friend. This occurs because many times if the clique of choice is around when you are there, the climber will inevitably ignore you and entertain the people he/she considers own higher status. The friend may alter mood, humour and their attitude towards you, also. What is most frustrating is that once the elite leave the scene the climber may assume the same relationship with you as previously, which is a bitch indeed.
Social climbers are prevalent in literature. One particular dude that springs to mind is the artful Steerpike from the Gormenghast trilogy, who uses his amusing yet deadly craftiness to climb form a very base status to a very high one within a somewhat gothic, fuked-up castle society.