Sociology Social Stratification
by
Robert Andersen
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 July 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0053

Introduction

Broadly defined, social stratification is an important part of many areas of study in sociology, but it also constitutes a distinct field on its own. Simply put, social stratification is the allocation of individuals and groups according to various social hierarchies of differing power, status, or prestige. Although divisions are often based on gender, religion, or race and ethnicity, the present entry focuses largely on socioeconomic inequalities, for the most part leaving other forms of social inequality to other entries. In this regard, social stratification is found in every society, even if it takes on slightly different forms. Uncovering what accounts for differences in social stratification—among societies and within particular societies over time—is a long-standing goal of the field. The classic works of early stratification sociologists—spurred by the work of Marx, Weber, and Durkheim—tended to be concerned with the question of “why” and “how” stratification arose in the first place. Although this debate continues to be an underlying motivation for much research on stratification, empirical research typically tackles questions for which evidence is more tangible. By the 1950s, stratification research was increasingly concerned with social mobility, though mostly within individual countries. By the 1980s, explaining cross-national differences in stratification became an important goal of the field. By now, stratification research is characterized by several debates. Although it has received somewhat less attention in the past decade or so, a classic debate centers on how socioeconomic position should be measured. Emphasis here has been on the applicability of measures of social class, status, and prestige. Although there are certainly important exceptions, differences in approach generally fall along territorial lines. European sociologists have tended to focus on relevance of occupation-based measures of social class, while North American sociologists have tended to rely on measures of socioeconomic status, which incorporate education as well as occupation. There have also been debates regarding the most effective ways to measure class and socioeconomic status. Yet other debates center on the importance of incorporating race and gender in studies of stratification. Finally, in recent decades emphasis has moved to the importance of education, both as a source of stratification on its own, and how it affects economic inequalities.

Textbooks

There are several good textbooks that students new to the field of social stratification would find useful. Three edited volumes are particularly good. Geared at the graduate level, Grusky, et al. 2008, an edited volume that includes both classic and contemporary writings from original authors, is noteworthy for its breadth. Grusky and Szelényi 2007 covers similar topics but at a level much more accessible for undergraduates. Manza and Sauder 2009 also cover a wide range of topics in social stratification but is unique in its greater emphasis on political inequality.

  • Grusky, David B., Manwai C. Ku, and Szonja Szelényi. 2008. Social stratification: Class, race, and gender in sociological perspective, 3d ed. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

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    Graduate students will greatly benefit from reading this volume, which includes both classic and recent articles from many important researchers in all the major fields of social stratification. Several of the chapters are perhaps too challenging for most undergraduate students, however.

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    • Grusky, David B., and Szonja Szelényi. 2007. The inequality reader: Contemporary and foundational readings in race, class, and gender. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

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      Part of the same series as Grusky, Ku, and Szelényi’s Social Stratification, this volume covers the same terrain but is geared more toward undergraduate students.

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      • Manza, Jeff. and Michael Sauder. 2009. Inequality and society: Social science perspectives on social stratification. New York: W. W. Norton.

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        A very good text for undergraduate courses on social inequality. Compared with other similar texts, provides far greater emphasis on the role political inequality.

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        Classic Works

        The work of Karl Marx set the stage for stratification research. Made most clear in Capital, Marx 1977 emphasized ownership of the means of production as the basis for dividing people into social classes. Nevertheless, as the Communist Manifesto, by Marx and Engels 1848, makes clear, Marx did not see stratification as inevitable. Instead, he saw the power imbalance in capitalist societies as resulting from the inherently exploitive nature of the capitalist economic system. Weber 1968 also argues for the importance of classes divided by economic resources, but critiqued Marx’s emphasis on ownership. Weber also stressed the importance of status groups for understanding stratification in the modern societies of the early 20th century. Barbalet 1980 provides a good critique of Weber’s work in this regard. Influenced by the idea of Durkeim 1984 of social differentiation and functionalism, Davis and Moore 1945 provided a fairly different view of stratification. Whereas Marx and Weber emphasized the role of power, the functionalist view emphasis the importance of merit in allocating people to positions in the stratification system. This school of thought assumes that some positions are more important than others, that these positions must be filled with the most talented individuals, and that unequal rewards ensure that the most talented desire and obtain these positions. Each of these premises has been debated by many authors, including Tumin 1953. See Giddens 1971 for a good general review and critique of all these theories.

        • Barbalet, Jack M. 1980. Principles of stratification in Max Weber: An interpretation and critique. The British Journal of Sociology 31.3: 401–418.

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          A clear exposition of the role of stratification in Weber’s work. A good place to start for students new to Weber.

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          • Davis, Kingsley, and Wilbert E. Moore. 1945. Some principles of stratification. American Sociological Review 10:242–249.

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            Clearly lays out the functionalist view of stratification. In particular, justifies stratification of the grounds that unequal rewards are needed in order to ensure that the most talented and qualified fill the most important positions in society.

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            • Durkheim, Emile. 1984. The division of labor in society. Translated by W. D. Halls. New York: The Free Press.

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              Discusses how the division of labor becomes more complex as advanced capitalist societies develop from primitive societies. Further argues that a complex division of labor requires that individuals are allocated to positions on the basis of merit and that they are rewarded according to their merit. Originally published in French in 1893.

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              • Giddens, Anthony. 1971. Capitalism & modern social theory: An analysis of the writings of Marx, Durkheim and Max Weber. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                Provides an overview and critical analysis of the ideas of the three major thinkers of early sociology, Marx, Durkheim, and Weber, including their work on stratification.

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                • Marx, Karl. 1977. Capital: A critique of political economy. Vol. 1. New York: Vintage.

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                  This classic work outlines Marx’s theory of exploitation and surplus-value. The book clearly outlines Marx’s argument that capitalists accumulate capital by exploiting labor through the extraction of surplus labor. First published in German in 1867.

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                  • Marx, Karl, and Frederick Engels. 1848. The communist manifesto.

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                    This classic work calls for the working class to unite and fight for its interests. One of the most influential political manuscripts of all time. First published in German.

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                    • Tumin, Melvin M. 1953. Some principles of stratification: A critical analysis. American Sociological Review 18:387–394.

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                      Criticizes Davis and Moore 1945 functionalist theory of stratification. In particular, Tumin questions how we can know which positions are most important for society, whether stratification systems are meritocratic, and whether we should assume it is a sacrifice to train for a functionally important position.

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                      • Weber, Max. 1968. Economy and society. Translated by G. Roth and C. Wittich. New York: Bedminster Press.

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                        Outlines Weber’s classic position on social stratification. Particularly important are the sections on “The Distribution of Power Within the Political Community: Class, Status, Party,” pp. 926–940, and “Status Groups and Classes,” pp. 302–307. Originally published in German in 1925.

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                        Social Class in Modern Societies

                        Most modern societies have undergone massive structural change since the classic works on sociology were first written. While the simple Marxist division of classes according to ownership of the means of production may have captured the main economic division in early industrial societies, it fails to capture fundamental differences in life chances and outcomes in modern societies. As the review by Myles and Turegun 1994 demonstrates, a major problem in this regard is how to handle the growth of the middle classes. It also became particularly important to devise standardized measures for cross-national comparative research. It is not surprising, then, that much research has focused on how best to measure social class in modern economies. Until the last decade, these new measures—all of which are based on occupation—could be divided into two broad categories: neo-Marxist, which is exemplified in Wright 1997 (see Meiksins 1998 for a critique) and neo-Weberian, which is made clear in Erikson, et al. 1979 (see also Evans and Mills 1998). More recently, Grusky and Weeden 2001 have proposed a neo-Durkheimian approach that disaggregates the larger class schemes typically employed. Goldthorpe 2002 provides a brief critique of the Grusky and Weeden approach. As the subsection on the “Debate on the Continued Relevance of Social Class” indicates, critiques of the social class approach argue that even these new measures are in adequate on the grounds that class is no longer relevant to modern societies.

                        • Erikson, Robert, John H. Goldthorpe, and Lucienne Portocarero. 1979. Intergenerational class mobility in three Western European societies: England, France and Sweden. British Journal of Sociology 34:303–343.

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                          Outlines the foundations of the neo-Weberian Erikson-Goldthorpe class schema. More recent versions of the Goldthorpe class schema are extended from this original article.

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                          • Evans, Geoffrey, and Colin Mills. 1998. Identifying class structure: A latent class analysis of the criterion-related and construct validity of the Goldthorpe Class Schema. European Sociological Review 14.1: 87–106.

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                            Provides an empirical test of the Erikson-Goldthorpe class schema. Demonstrates that this class schema maps very well onto latent classes determined by occupational characteristics. Concludes that the Goldthorpe class schema displays both criterion-related and construct validity as a measure of class structure.

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                            • Goldthorpe, John H. 2002. Occupational sociology, yes: Class analysis, no: Comment on Grusky and Weeden’s “Research Agenda.” Acta Sociologica 45.3: 211–217.

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                              Critique of Grusky and Weeden 2001. Argues that their approach fails to recognize that non-Marxist approaches to class structure do not assume class formation is inevitable, or that it be present to justify the analysis of class structure. Simply put, the article argues that class analysis in its non-Marxist form is not in need of radical reconstruction.

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                              • Grusky, David B., and Kim A. Weeden. 2001. Decomposition without death: A research agenda for a new class analysis. Acta Sociologica 44.3: 203–218.

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                                Argues that “big” class schemes underestimate the effects of class because of the growth of divisions within them. As a result, calls for a neo-Durkheimian approach to the study of class structure in modern societies. Proposes a new class measures that takes into account social closure that divides occupations.

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                                • Meiksins, Peter F. 1998. A critique of Wright’s theory of contradictory class locations. In The debate on classes, 2d ed. Edited by Erik Olin Wright, 173–183. New York: Verso Books.

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                                  A critique of Erik O. Wright’s neo-Marxist class structure framework. Particularly challenges Wright’s redefinition of exploitation and how it is used to define contradictory class locations.

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                                  • Myles, John, and Adnan Turegun. 1994. Comparative studies in class structure. Annual Review of Sociology 20:103–124.

                                    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.so.20.080194.000535Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                    Good general overview of studies on class studies of modern democracies. Also clearly lays out the differences in the various approaches to the study of class structure. A good place to start for a student new to class analysis.

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                                    • Wright, Erik Olin. 1997. Class counts: Comparative studies in class analysis. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                      Outlines Wright’s neo-Marxist approach to the study of class structure in modern societies. Studies class structure and its consequences in twelve countries. Emphasizes the importance of control over productive resources and labor as a way to categorize the middle classes. In this regard, he proposes the idea of contradictory class locations. Most of the chapters in the book are revised versions of papers published previously in academic journals.

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                                      Debate on the Continued Relevance of Social Class

                                      Starting in the early 1990s, postmodernists and other theorists began to argue not just that class structure had become too complicated for traditional class measures, but rather that class had lost its applicability as a concept for understanding modern societies. A significant debate over this issue was spurred by Pakulski and Waters 1996, who argued that class was “dead.” Similarly, Kingston 2000 argues that the United States is now a “classless” society. Those who adhere to this side of the debate tend to cite declining class effects on a wide range of political attitudes and actions as evidence of the unimportance of class. Not all agree that class is no longer important, however. For example, Sorensen 2000 and Grusky and Sorensen 1998 suggest that class still matters, but traditional measures fail to find class effects because they fail to tap important features of modern class structures. Wright 1996 suggests that even if class doesn’t impact some outcomes like it once did, it still has fundamental consequences for people’s lives. From this point of view, emphasis shouldn’t be on whether class is an important concept, but rather why it doesn’t affect politics. Finally, others like Evans 1999, Svallfors 2006, and Andersen and Fetner 2008 demonstrate that even traditional measures of class continue to matter for a large array of social and political attitudes and actions.

                                      • Andersen, Robert, and Tina Fetner. 2008. Economic inequality and intolerance: Attitudes toward homosexuality in 35 democracies. American Journal of Political Science 52.4: 942–958.

                                        DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2008.00352.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                        Contradicts the argument that modernization has led to less polarization along class lines. Demonstrates that social class matters for attitudes, though the differences between social classes is largest in rich countries. Specifically, the working class tends to be equally intolerant regardless of the level of economic development, while the middle classes tend to become more tolerant in countries with a high level of economic development.

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                                        • Evans, Geoff. 1999. The end of class politics? Class voting in comparative context. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                          This edited volume includes studies of class voting from several countries (including Britain, France, Norway, Japan, the United States, and Germany). Although not all chapters are in agreement, the general conclusion from the book is that social class remains important for politics in modern societies.

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                                          • Grusky, David B., and Jesper B. Sorensen. 1998. Can class analysis be salvaged? American Journal of Sociology 103:1187–1234.

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                                            Acknowledges that commonly used measures of social class are not as effective as they were in the past. Argues that society has become more complex, and thus new more detailed measures of class must take this complexity into account.

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                                            • Kingston, Paul W. 2000. The classless society. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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                                              Pulls together various studies from the field of stratification to make the claim the United States is a classless society. Argues that class has very little effect on a wide range of outcomes, including social and political attitudes and actions. In short, argues that social class does not define life chances.

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                                              • Pakulski, Jan, and Malcolm Waters. 1996. The reshaping and dissolution of social class in advanced society. Theory and Society 25:667–691.

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                                                Spurs a big debate over the importance of social class for modern societies. Claims that class is no longer important. Uses the decline in the relationship between class and vote and attitudes as evidence. Widely criticized, however, for failing to acknowledge that class divisions still have important implications for many life outcomes.

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                                                • Sorensen, Aage B. 2000. Symposium on class analysis: Toward a sounder basis for class analysis. American Journal of Sociology 105.6: 1523–1558.

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                                                  Proposes that class measures should be based on personal assets. Argues that a class measure based on rent-producing assets can better account for class differences in modern capitalist societies than traditional class measures.

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                                                  • Svallfors, Stefan. 2006. The moral economy of class: Class and attitudes in comparative perspective. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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                                                    Explores the relationship between social class and social and political attitudes in Sweden, Britain, Germany and the United States. Using data from the International Social Survey Program, provides evidence that social class continues to be important for attitudes.

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                                                    • Wright, Erik Olin. 1996. The continuing relevance of class analysis. Theory and Society 25:697–716.

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                                                      A direct response to Pakulski and Waters 1996. In short, argues that their argument and evidence is weak. Claims that social class is still very relevant for people’s lives, regardless of whether or not it has become less salient to politics.

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                                                      Gradational Approaches to Stratification

                                                      In contrast to the social class approaches to stratification, which attempt to slot individuals into typically large, mutually exclusive, and exhaustive categories, gradational approaches assume that the underlying structure of stratification in modern societies can be measured on a continuum based on income, status, education, and/or prestige. The socioeconomic index by Duncan 1961, which is a composite measure of prestige, income, and education, can be seen as the pioneering measure in this regard (see Stevens and Featherman 1981 for an update of this measure). The occupational prestige measure by Treiman 1977 was also an important contribution in that it facilitated and spurred cross-national research in the area. More recently, Ganzeboom, et al. 1992 created Treiman’s International Socio-Economic Index of occupational status (ISEI), which has become increasingly popular. Creating these new measures is simplified by the International Labour Organization’s 1990 ISCO (International Standard Occupation Codes). For a detailed discussion on how to derive the ISEI measure, see Ganzeboom and Treiman 1996. Like the social class approach, however, this approach also has critics. For example, Hauser and Warren 1997 suggest that occupational status measures put too much emphasis on income. Jencks, et al. 1988 argue that occupational status measures could be improved by including information about other characteristics that make a job desirable aside from income.

                                                      • Duncan, Otis D. 1961. A socioeconomic index for all occupations. In Occupations and social status. Edited by Albert John Reiss, Otis Dudley Duncan, Paul K. Hatt, and Cecil C. North. New York: Free Press.

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                                                        Duncan’s pioneering study of occupational status. Introduces the socioeconomic index (SEI) for occupations, a composite of occupational prestige, income, and education. The SEI measure, and variants of it, continues to have influence in sociological research.

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                                                        • Ganzeboom, Harry B. G., Paul De Graff, and Donald J. Treiman. 1992. A standard international socio-economic index of occupational status. Social Science Research 21.1: 1–56.

                                                          DOI: 10.1016/0049-089X9290017-BSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          Describes Ganzeboom and Treiman’s International Socio-Economic Index of occupational status (ISEI) and compares it to other measures of stratification, including Goldthorpe’s class schema and Treiman’s 1977 international occupational prestige measure. Analysis of seventy thousand occupations in sixteen countries.

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                                                          • Ganzeboom, Harry B. G., and Donald J. Treiman. 1996. Internationally comparable measures of occupational status for the 1988 international standard classification of occupations. Social Science Research 25:201–235.

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                                                            Describes how Ganzeboom and Treiman’s ISEI measure can be derived from the International Labour Organization’s 1988 ISCO (International Standard Classification of Occupations) codes.

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                                                            • Hauser, Robert M. and John Robert Warren. 1997. Socioeconomic indexes for occupations: A review, update, and critique. Sociological Methodology 27:177–298.

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                                                              Provides an excellent review and critique of the most commonly used socioeconomic scales for occupations. Argues that these measures typically overestimate the level of social fluidity in society, largely because they give too much weight to occupational earnings and ignore intergenerational relationships between occupational education and occupational earnings. Concludes that composite measures of occupational status are obsolete.

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                                                              • International Labour Organization. 1990. International standard classification of occupations (ISCO-88). Geneva, Switzerland: International Labour Office.

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                                                                Provides details of the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO), which is commonly used as the basis for measures of occupational status. ISCO organizes occupations according their tasks and duties with the objective of providing a basis for the international comparison of occupations.

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                                                                • Jencks, Christopher, Lauri Perman, and Lee Rainwater. 1988. What is a good job? A new measure of labor-market success. American Journal of Sociology 93:1322–1357.

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                                                                  Argues that standard occupational prestige and status measures failed to tap the overall desirability of jobs. Proposes an index of job desirability (IJD) that incorporates thirteen income-related job characteristics along with earnings and weights all these characteristics according to their effects on workers’ judgments about how “good” their current jobs are compared with an average job.

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                                                                  • Stevens, Gillian, and David L. Featherman. 1981. A revised socioeconomic index of occupational status. Social Science Research 10.4: 364–395.

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                                                                    Updates the original Duncan SEI measure. Argues that the educational and economic characteristics of US occupations changed drastically between 1950 and 1980, necessitating the update.

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                                                                    • Treiman, Donald J. 1977. Occupational prestige in comparative perspective. New York: Academic Press.

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                                                                      Explores occupational prestige in sixty countries using Treiman’s occupational prestige scale. Concludes that the structure of occupational prestige is relatively similar across countries. The Treiman scale has become the most widely used measure in studies of occupational prestige.

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                                                                      Social Mobility and Status Attainment

                                                                      The study of social mobility has occupied a central place in stratification research. Given that it also has a separate article in this bibliography, this article focuses only on some of the main issues. Social mobility refers to the degree to which individuals move from one position to another within the social stratification system. Good general overviews of social mobility research can be found in Kerckhoff 1984, and more recently, Hout and DiPrete 2006. Most European research employs the social class approach exemplified in Erikson and Goldthorpe 1992 (under Cross-National Differences in Mobility). On the other hand, mobility research in the US has been heavily influenced by the status attainment model developed by Blau and Duncan 1967 (see also Sewell and Hauser 1975). Also influential in this research tradition is the Featherman-Jones-Hauser (FJH) hypothesis (see Featherman, et al. 1975), which argues that there is a high degree of cross-national similarity in social mobility rates in industrial societies with market economies and nuclear families. Research in both traditions has tended to be mostly concerned with intergenerational mobility—that is, movement from one generation to the next—though with modern economies going through such drastic changes in the past few decades, intra-generation mobility—that is, mobility over one’s lifetime—is becoming increasingly important. As exemplified in Hout 1988, emphasis has also been place on the relative roles of structural and exchange mobility. Research on social mobility during the 1980s and 1990s was marked by its emphasis on methodological considerations, in particular how best to study relative mobility. For more details on these methodological developments, see Methodological Innovations in the Study of Mobility. Over the past two decades, there has been a tendency to focus on identifying and explaining cross-national differences in mobility, or the lack thereof. An overview of research in this tradition is discussed in Cross-National Differences in Mobility.

                                                                      • Blau, Peter M., and Otis D. Duncan. 1967. The American occupational structure. New York: Wiley.

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                                                                        Revolutionized the field of stratification research with path model analysis. Shows that socioeconomic outcomes are structured not only by family background and ability but also by intervening variables such as education. Influenced a generation of stratification and mobility research, especially in the United States.

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                                                                        • Featherman, David, F. Lancaster Jones, and Robert M. Hauser. 1975. Assumptions of social mobility research in the US: The case of occupational status. Social Science Research 4.4: 329–360.

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                                                                          Posits the so-called Featherman-Jones-Hauser (FJH) hypothesis, which argues that there is a high degree of cross-national similarity in social mobility rates in industrial societies with market economies and nuclear families. Claims that the main differences across countries are largely due to structural differences (i.e., differences in occupation distributions).

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                                                                          • Hout, Michael. 1988. More universalism, less structural mobility: The American occupational structure in the 1980s. American Journal of Sociology 93.6:1358–1400.

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                                                                            Shows a substantial decrease in the association between socioeconomic origins and destinations in the United States during the period from 1972 and 1985. Claims that the decrease in this relationship is due to increased levels of education. Also argues, however, that overall mobility rates were fairly constant because a decline in structural mobility offset the education effect.

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                                                                            • Hout, Michael, and Thomas A. DiPrete. 2006. What we have learned: RC28’s contributions to knowledge about social stratification. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 24.1 :1–20.

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                                                                              Provides an excellent overview of the major findings from research presented at the International Sociological Association’s Research Committee on Stratification and Mobility (RC 28). Several of these major findings pertain to social mobility.

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                                                                              • Kerckhoff, Alan C. 1984. The current state of social mobility research. Sociological Quarterly 25.2: 139–158.

                                                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1533-8525.1984.tb00179.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                A good overview of the two main types of mobility research—that is, the social class tradition and the status attainment model—and how differences between the two approaches could possibility be bridged. Also discusses the relative importance of structural and individual factors in the social mobility process.

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                                                                                • Sewell, William H., and Robert M. Hauser. 1975. Education, occupation, and earnings: Achievement in the early career. New York: Academic Press.

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                                                                                  A comprehensive application of the Wisconsin model, which extends the status achievement model to include other factors, such as ability. Analyzes a large sample of Wisconsin men ten years after their 1957 high school graduation. Highly cited and influential.

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                                                                                  • Sorokin, Pitrim. 1927. Social mobility. New York: Harper and Brothers.

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                                                                                    The seminal work on social mobility. Many of the terms used in social mobility research today stem from this work. Distinct in its emphasis on the positions of groups rather than individuals within the stratification system.

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                                                                                    • Warren, John Robert, and Robert M. Hauser. 1997. Social stratification across three generations: New evidence from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. American Sociological Review 62:561–572.

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                                                                                      Innovative compared to most mobility studies, which tend to look only at the role of parental socioeconomic background, this study explores the direct effect of grandparents’ socioeconomic background on respondents’ educational attainment and occupational status. Finds little evidence of direct effects after parental background is controlled.

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                                                                                      Cross-National Differences in Mobility

                                                                                      Explaining cross-national differences in intergenerational social mobility is one of the classic questions of stratification research. Sorokin 1927 (see Social Mobility and Status Attainment) sparked a lively debate, and much research on the topic, when he asserted that cross-national patterns in social mobility indicated only “trendless fluctuations.” Proponents of the liberal theory of mobility, for example Lipset and Bendix 1959, argue that social mobility increases with industrialization, but only until a certain level of economic development has been reached. This thesis holds that economic development increases rationalization, mass communication, and geographical mobility, all of which apparently encourage a decline in the importance of ascriptive criteria for the allocation of people to social positions. Others from a neo-Weberian point of view, for example, Goldthorpe 1985 and Breen 1997, suggest that the theoretical rationale for the neoliberal theory of stratification is logically flawed. In this regard, the ambitious study by Erikson and Goldthorpe 1992, and also Breen 2004, of mobility in cross-national perspective suggests that cross-national variation in social mobility largely reflects conditions specific to individual countries at specific times, rather than systematic differences. Using a neo-Marxist framework, however, Western and Wright 1994 suggest that cross-national differences in mobility at least partly reflect differences in the level of state intervention. DiPrete 2002 is innovative in it focus on how institutions affect life conditions in an individual’s household.

                                                                                      • Breen, Richard. 1997. Inequality, economic growth and social mobility. The British Journal of Sociology 48:429–449.

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                                                                                        Assesses the neoliberal theory of stratification using a formal model of the relationship of intergenerational and intra-generational mobility to economic growth and inequality. Suggests that rates of social mobility show little cross-national variation because there is no necessary link between mobility and economic growth.

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                                                                                        • Breen, Richard. 2004. Social mobility in Europe. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                          A very good edited volume containing country-specific chapters on mobility in eleven European countries since 1970. The introduction provides an overview of social mobility research and its findings. Chapter 2 does a good job of discussing the various methods used in mobility research.

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                                                                                          • DiPrete, Thomas A. 2002. Life course risks, mobility regimes, and mobility consequences: A comparison of Sweden, Germany, and the United States. American Journal of Sociology 108.2: 267–309.

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                                                                                            In contrast to most research on intergenerational mobility that uses occupation as the basis of measures of social position, this study is innovative in its development of a measure of stratification based on life conditions in an individual’s household. Focuses on cross-national variation in how societal institutions influence the rate of events that could change household life conditions.

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                                                                                            • Erikson, Robert, and John H. Goldthorpe. 1992. The constant flux: A study of class mobility in industrial societies. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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                                                                                              The most comprehensive comparative study on social mobility. Studies mobility in fifteen nations with the goal of assessing widely held assumptions about cross-national differences in mobility. Argues that the basic pattern of relative mobility changed very little, especially where there were no serious attempts by the state to alleviate inequalities.

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                                                                                              • Ganzeboom, Harry, Donald Treiman, and Wout C. Ultee. 1991. Comparative intergenerational stratification research. Annual Review of Sociology 17:277–302.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.1146/annurev.so.17.080191.001425Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                Provides a good review and critique of stratification research before the 1990s. Divides research in the area in the three “generations,” focusing mostly on the third generation.

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                                                                                                • Goldthorpe, John H. 1985. On economic development and social mobility. The British Journal of Sociology 36:549–573.

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                                                                                                  Critiques the argument that mobility increases with economic development. Argues that research in this area has been poorly executed. Suggests that more reliable research indicates that this thesis should be viewed with skepticism.

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                                                                                                  • Lipset, Seymour M., and Richard Bendix. 1959. Social mobility in industrial society. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                                                                    A seminal work on social mobility. Argues that the overall pattern of social mobility is very similar across Western industrial societies. Also argues that mobility is highest when economic development reaches a certain level.

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                                                                                                    • Western, Mark, and Erik O. Wright. 1994. The permeability of class boundaries to intergenerational mobility among men in the United States, Canada, Norway, and Sweden. American Sociological Review 59.4: 606–629.

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                                                                                                      Using a neo-Marxist framework, explores the permeability of three types of class boundaries—property, authority, and expertise—to intergenerational mobility. Results suggest differences in permeability than reflect the differences in state intervention in the four countries. In particular, the property boundary is least permeable in Canada and the United States. Some cultural interpretations are also given.

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                                                                                                      Methodological Innovations in the Study of Mobility

                                                                                                      An issue of significant importance in mobility research is the distinction between absolute mobility and relative mobility. A very good description of this distinction is seen in Goldthorpe 2000. Absolute mobility refers to structural changes in the economy that cause widespread mobility. Specifically, the growth of the middle classes as society developed resulted in a large proportion of people with working class or farm origins moving into the middle class, and thus increased overall mobility rates accordingly. On the other hand, relative mobility refers to the level of mobility experienced by a particular social class relative to the level of mobility experiences by another class. The distinction is particularly important for determining the level of social fluidity—that is, openness—in a society. It is possible for a society to have high absolute mobility and yet low levels of relative mobility. The debate over the importance of these two types of mobility resulted in methodological innovations for the analysis of categorical data, starting with Goodman 1979, which introduces the association model for categorical data. Clogg 1982 demonstrates how this model can be extended from two-way tables to more complicated relationships. Xie 1992 introduces the log-multiplicative layer-effect model, which allows for much greater flexibility than previous association models. A particularly important development for cross-national research, Goodman and Hout 1998 describe how this model can be extended to measure the relationship between two variables conditional on another. For a good general introduction to the association model and its extensions, see Xie 2003.

                                                                                                      • Clogg, Clifford C. 1982. Using association models in sociological research: Some examples. American Journal of Sociology 88.1: 114–134.

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                                                                                                        Provides a good description of how the association model is extended from two-way tables to higher-way tables.

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                                                                                                        • Goldthorpe, John H. 2000. On sociology: Numbers, narratives, and the integration of research and theory. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                          Although this book tackles many issues regarding the importance of linking theory and methods in sociological research, Chapter 11 is particularly important with respect to social mobility research. This chapter provides a good general description of the various types of mobility and a critique of various approaches to studying them.

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                                                                                                          • Goodman, Leo A. 1979. Simple models for the analysis of association in cross-classifications having ordered categories. Journal of the American Statistical Association 74.367: 537–552.

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                                                                                                            The seminal paper on the association model, which is a special case of the log-linear model, is a class of statistical models used to measure the strength of a relationship between two or more ordered categorical variables. Many developments afterwards are based on this model.

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                                                                                                            • Goodman, Leo A., and Michael Hout. 1998. Understanding the Goodman-Hout approach to the analysis of differences in association and some related comments. In Sociological methodology. Edited by Adrian E. Raftery, 249–261. Washington, DC: American Sociological Association.

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                                                                                                              A seminal article on how to extend the “unidiff model” to measure the relationship between two categorical variables conditional on another. A particularly important development for research comparing differences in mobility patterns cross-nationally.

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                                                                                                              • Xie, Yu. 1992. The log-multiplicative layer effect model for comparing mobility tables. American Sociological Review 57:380–395.

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                                                                                                                Discusses the log-multiplicative layer-effect model, which is perhaps more commonly known as the “unidiff model.” Allows a more flexible specification of the association pattern between many variables than the initial approach discussed in Clogg 1982.

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                                                                                                                • Xie, Yu. 2003. Association model. In The Sage encyclopedia of social science research methods. Edited by Michael Lewis-Beck, Alan Bryman, and Tim Futing Liao. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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                                                                                                                  A clear, brief treatment of the association model. Discusses how the model is extended from two-way tables to several variables. Also gives some brief examples of how these models are used.

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                                                                                                                  Education and Human Capital

                                                                                                                  Education is widely considered important to stratification in modern societies. There are various ways to view the role of education, however. Becker 1993 clearly outlines the rational choice (or economic) perspective, which sees schooling and training as reflecting cost-benefit decisions made by individuals with the goal of investing in education, in order to achieve greater socioeconomic outcomes in the future. The influential work of Mare 1980 argues that students are faced with several transitions throughout their schooling careers, when they must decide whether to continue or to quit. Parental socioeconomic background has a strong effect on these decisions, though less so with each transition. Lucas 2001 incorporates not just moving up in grades, but also the type of education students pursue. He demonstrates that using this approach leads to the conclusion that socioeconomic background has a strong effect at all transitions. Others also acknowledge class-based inequalities in educational attainment. This is seen, for example, in the classic study of schooling in the United States by Coleman 1979, which also concludes the socioeconomic makeup of the student body also matters. From a more critical point of view, Jencks 1972 suggests that schools are little more than agencies granting credentials, and thus do not facilitate social mobility. Coming from a Marxist viewpoint, Bowles and Gintis 1976 argue that formal schooling serves to reproduce inequality by rewarding skills, values, and behaviors most likely to be found in the middle classes. Regardless of the view one takes on the role of schools, similar patterns in the trends of educational attainment are found in most modern societies. In this regard, the various chapters in Shavit and Blossfeld 1993 demonstrate a common pattern of the tremendous increase in higher education for women, who now out-achieve men in many countries. For someone new to this area, Breen and Jonsson 2005 provides an excellent overview of research on the relationship between educational attainment and social mobility.

                                                                                                                  • Becker, Gary. 1993. Nobel lecture: The economic way of looking at behavior. The Journal of Political Economy 101.3: 385–409.

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                                                                                                                    Among other things, provides a good summary of the idea of human capital. Suggests that individuals make rational choices when deciding on the level and type of education and training that they pursue. They “invest” in appropriate training in order to obtain desired economic outcomes in the future. This investment in education is seen as analogous to capital investment in the economy with the expectation of making profits, and thus is labeled “human capital.”

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                                                                                                                    • Bowles, Samuel, and Herbert Gintis. 1976. Schooling in capitalist America: Educational reform and the contradictions of economic life. New York: Basic Books.

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                                                                                                                      A key study for the Marxist view of the sociology of education. Argues that schools reproduce and legitimate inequality by favoring middle-class knowledge. Also argues that formal education is used to control the workforce. Rejects the idea that there is equality of opportunity for people from all class backgrounds. Argues that working-class children experience disadvantage throughout the schooling process.

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                                                                                                                      • Breen, Richard, and Jan O. Jonsson. 2005. Inequality of opportunity in comparative perspective: Recent research on educational attainment and social mobility. Annual Review of Sociology 31:223–243

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.31.041304.122232Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        An excellent review and critique of research on the relationship between educational attainment and social mobility. Good starting point for a student new to the area.

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                                                                                                                        • Coleman, James S. 1979. Equality of educational opportunity. Washington, DC : US Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare, Office of Education.

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                                                                                                                          Typically referred to as the “Coleman Report,” this US government report was one of the largest studies in US history when originally published in 1966. Studies the effects of socioeconomic background and school context on educational achievement. Argues that background is more important than school resources, though students are also influenced by the socioeconomic composition of the students at the school. Remains one of the most important studies in the sociology of education.

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                                                                                                                          • Jencks, Christopher. 1972. Inequality: A reassessment of the effect of family and schooling in America. New York: Basic Books.

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                                                                                                                            In contrast to Coleman, this landmark study argues that schools have little impact on individuals’ economic outcomes. Using individuals as the unit of analysis, argues that the primary role of schools is as certification agencies that label individuals for jobs in the labor force. Suggests that the best way to equalize opportunities is to equalize incomes, not education.

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                                                                                                                            • Lucas, Samuel R. 2001. Effectively maintained inequality: Education transitions, track mobility, and social background effects. American Journal of Sociology 106:1642–1690.

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                                                                                                                              Proposes a general explanation for social background related to inequality in educational attainment. Considers both educational transitions in terms of moving up in grades and differences in educational tracks. Proposes the theory of effectively maintained inequality (EMI), which, in contrast to standard findings in the field, holds that social background has profound effects through all education transitions. Argues, then, that class inequalities are reproduced by the type of curriculum students take.

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                                                                                                                              • Mare, Robert D. 1980. Social background and school continuation decisions. Journal of the American Statistical Association 75.370: 295–305.

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                                                                                                                                Set the stage for a large body of education research after it. Argues that the association between origins and destinations arises through a set of transitions from the start of formal schooling until leaving school. Socioeconomic background can come into play to affect decisions on whether or not to stay or leave school at any one of these transitions.

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                                                                                                                                • Shavit, Yossi, and Hans Peter Blossfeld, 1993. Persistent inequality: Changing educational attainment in thirteen countries. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

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                                                                                                                                  An influential, edited volume containing analyses from thirteen countries. Outlines the extent to which women have begun to obtain higher levels of educational attainment than men, and how widespread this trend has been internationally.

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                                                                                                                                  Cultural Capital

                                                                                                                                  First proposed by Bourdieu and Passeron 1979, the concept of cultural capital was developed to understand class inequalities in educational attainment in France. Although it took some time before it caught on elsewhere, it is now well established as a subfield of sociology across the globe. The general argument is simple: schools reward middle-class cultural habits, and thus working-class children are at a disadvantage compared to middle-class children, who have greater knowledge of middle-class culture. Bourdieu 1977 also suggests the idea of habitus, which is used to describe the process by which individuals are affected by, and reproduce, social structures. Research on countries other than France has demonstrated mixed support for the theory. For example, DiMaggio 1982 found that, although participation in middle-class culture affects school performance in the United States, its effects are not as strong as Bourdieu and Passeron 1979 suggest they are in France. Lareau 1987 also suggests that cultural capital can help explain class differentials in educational attainment in the United States. Lamont and Lareau 1988 suggests that theory applies to other contexts outside of France, including the US, but that it must be somewhat adapted to reflect cultural differences. On the other hand, DeGraff, et al. 2000 show little evidence of a relationship between participation in high culture and school performance in The Netherlands. Nevertheless, cultural capital also has critics. For example, Kingston 2001 argues that the concept has become too broad to be useful for explaining educational attainment. Still, other research suggests the importance of cultural capital in the workforce. In this regard, Erickson’s 1996 study of workers in the security industry in Canada suggests that diversity in cultural knowledge is more important than knowing only middle-class culture.

                                                                                                                                  • Bourdieu, Pierre. 1977. Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                    Provides a discussion of Bourdieu’s influential term habitus, which pertains to how individuals acquire tastes and sensibilities based on the social structures they experience. Habitus thus results from an objectification of social structures.

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                                                                                                                                    • Bourdieu, Pierre, and Jean-Claude Passeron. 1979. The inheritors: French students and their relation to culture. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                                                                                      The seminal piece on cultural capital. This book introduces the term—which, essentially, refers to cultural habits that are inherited from one’s family background—to explain why economic obstacles are not sufficient to explain class differentials in educational achievement. Originally published in French in 1964.

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                                                                                                                                      • De Graaf, Nan Dirk, Paul De Graaf, and Gerbert Kraaykamp. 2000. Parental cultural capital and educational attainment in the Netherlands: A refinement of the cultural capital perspective. Sociology of Education 73.2: 92–111.

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                                                                                                                                        Tests the applicability of cultural capital theory on a representative sample of the Dutch population. Demonstrates that parents reading to their children has a strong affect on children’s performance in school, but participation in high culture (or beaux arts) has little impact.

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                                                                                                                                        • DiMaggio, Paul. 1982. Cultural capital and school success: The impact of status culture participation on the grades of US high school students. American Sociological Review 47.2: 189–201.

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                                                                                                                                          One of the first empirical tests of the concept of cultural capital and how it affects school grades. Demonstrates that even after controlling for parental socioeconomic background and measured ability, an index measuring cultural capital has a significant effect on students’ grades, although it is not as closely tied to family background—at least not in the United States—as Bourdieu 1977 claimed.

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                                                                                                                                          • Erickson, Bonnie. 1996. Culture, class, and connections. American Journal of Sociology 102.1: 217–251.

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                                                                                                                                            A careful, detailed study of how social and cultural capital interact. Suggests that an emphasis on the importance of high culture fails to uncover the manner in which culture works. Demonstrates that different types of culture are more beneficial depending on the social context. In other words, high culture is not always useful. Those who have knowledge of many types of culture are more likely to have diverse social networks.

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                                                                                                                                            • Kingston, Paul W. 2001. The unfulfilled promise of cultural capital theory. In Special Issue: Current of Thought: Sociology of Education at the Dawn of the 21st Century. Edited by Aaron M. Palas. Sociology of Education 74:88–99.

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                                                                                                                                              A detailed critique of cultural capital theory and related research. Suggests that the concept has not received the criticism it deserves. Suggests that the concept has become too broad to be useful for understanding educational achievement. Doesn’t discount the role of culture but, rather, suggests that exclusionary cultural practices are not tied to particular social groups.

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                                                                                                                                              • Lamont, Michele, and Annette Lareau. 1988. Cultural capital: Allusions, gaps and glissandos in recent theoretical developments. Sociological Theory 6.2: 153–168.

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                                                                                                                                                A review of research influenced by Bourdieu and Passeron’s 1979 concept of cultural capital, which was originally developed to explain the reproduction of inequalities in French society. Also puts the theory in the context of other theories on stratification. Describes some of the limitations of this theory for the US, and suggests on how it can be adapted to the United States context.

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                                                                                                                                                • Lareau, Annette. 1987. Social class differences in family-school relationships: The importance of cultural capital. Sociology of Education 60.2: 73–85.

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                                                                                                                                                  Argues that cultural capital can help explain class differentials in educational attainment in the United States. Schools have standard views on the appropriate role for parents in schooling, which in turn affects student performance. Unequal resources make it more difficult for working-class parents to meet these standards than middle-class parents.

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                                                                                                                                                  Social Capital

                                                                                                                                                  As Portes 1998 makes clear, social capital has many definitions. So many, in fact, that some argue the concept has been overextended. In stratification research, definitions commonly emphasize the role of social networks in creating socioeconomic outcomes. From this view, we can see social capital as the returns to investments in social networks. A seminal piece in this regard is Granovetter 1974, which has been highly influential with its suggestion that people obtain better information on job opportunities from weak contacts than from strong contacts. Lin 1999 provides a good review of research showing a link between status attainment and social networks. A similar idea is shown in Burt 1992, especially as it pertains to organizational success. Others suggest the importance of social capital for schooling. For example, Coleman 1988 discusses the importance of strong families and strong school communities for limiting the chances a student will drop out of school. Carbonaro 1998 provides a stronger test of this idea, showing that students do better if their parents know the parents of their friends. As Portes 1998 makes clear, however, not all social capital can be seen as “good,” but often the negative side is neglected. He argues that although social closure binds people together, it also keeps others out. Moreover, some social networks, such as those composed of criminals, for example, can be destructive. Another important work is Granovetter 1984, which discusses the term “embeddedness.” Finally, Mouw 2006 provides a good critique of research exploring the role of social capital in stratification, suggesting that a challenge for research in the area is the fact that people tend to associate with people much like themselves.

                                                                                                                                                  • Burt, Ronald S. 1992. Structural holes: The social structure of competition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                    Argues that social capital should be seen as social contacts through which individuals gain opportunities to use their financial and human capital. Like Granovetter 1974, Burt emphasizes the importance of weak ties, which he calls “structural holes” for socioeconomic success.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Carbonaro, William. 1998. A little help from my friend’s parents: Intergenerational closure and educational outcomes. Sociology of Education 71.4: 295–313.

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                                                                                                                                                      Tests Coleman’s theory of intergenerational closure, which argues that children will do better in school if their parents know more of their friends’ parents. Finds only weak support for the theory. Demonstrates that it applies for mathematics achievement, but not achievement in any other subject.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Coleman, James. 1988. Social capital in the creation of human capital. American Journal of Sociology 94.suppl.: 95–121.

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                                                                                                                                                        Introduces the concept of social capital in relation to rational choice theory and social closure. Emphasizes the importance of strong networks. Argues that closed social networks reproduce both socioeconomic success and failure. Suggests that social capital takes on three forms: (1) obligations and expectations; (2) informational channels, and; (3) social norms. Illustrates the concept in the context of dropping out of high school.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Granovetter, Mark. 1984. Economic action and social structure: The problem of embeddedness. American Journal of Sociology 91.3: 481–510.

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                                                                                                                                                          Concerned with the extent to which economic action is embedded within social relations. In other words, even seemingly nonrational actions can be explained by the social context within which they take place. Although the article focuses on economic action, Granovetter argues that the idea of embeddedness has applicability to social action more generally.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Granovetter, Mark. 1974. The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology 78.6: 1360–1380.

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                                                                                                                                                            Very important piece on the role of social networks. Suggests that people are more likely to obtain important information on employment opportunities from weak rather than strong contacts. The rationale is that people in tight networks tend to have similar information as each other, and thus information is redundant, while diversity in information is more likely to come from weak contacts.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Lin, Nan. 1999. Social networks and status attainment. Annual Review of Sociology 25:467–488.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.25.1.467Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              A good overview and critique of research exploring the relationship between social networks and stratification.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Mouw, Ted. 2006. Estimating the causal effect of social capital: A review of recent research. Annual Review of Sociology 32:7–102.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.32.061604.123150Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                A good overview and critique of research exploring the effects of various types of social capital on a wide range of topics. Argues that a challenge for the approach is to be able to take into account the fact that people tend to associate with people much like themselves. Nevertheless, argues that progress has been made and suggests avenues for future research.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Portes, Alejandro. 1998. Social capital: Its origins and applications in modern sociology. Annual Review of Sociology 24:1–24.

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                                                                                                                                                                  A very good overview and critique of the concept of social capital. Describes the various forms the concept takes. Argues for the importance of the concept as a determinant of social outcomes, in particular when seen as a consequence of sociability, but also that its definition has been overextended.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Gender and Economic Inequality

                                                                                                                                                                  There is an abundance of good research on the role of gender in society. In fact, the sociology of gender constitutes an important area of research on its own. For this section, then, we focus only on the role of gender in generating economic inequality. In this regard, the gender gap in pay and incomes is well known. Although the gender gap has been drastically reduced in most modern societies over the past fifty years, Bernhardt, et al. 1995 provide insightful evidence suggesting that not all of this improvement can be attributed to gains made by women. Instead, some of the narrowing of the gap reflects a more sobering story, namely, that men have experienced significant losses. Charles and Grusky 2004 (see also DiPrete and Grusky 1990; Cohen and Huffman 2003) provide other evidence suggesting that, although there has certainly been progress, occupations continue to be segregated by gender, with women tending to hold those jobs characterized by lower economic rewards. In a similar vein, Wright, et al. 1995 demonstrate a gender gap in authority in the workplace, though the extent of this gap varies cross-nationally. The gender penalty becomes more apparent when one considers research by Williams 1992 that suggests men fare better than women even in jobs that tend to be dominated by women. As Budig and England 2001 demonstrate, some of the gender gap can be attributed to the fact that women experience a wage penalty for having children, even after controlling for experience. Finally, work by Glenn 1985 and others on intersectionality suggests that discrimination against women is even worse if they have minority racial status.

                                                                                                                                                                  • Bernhardt, A., H. Morris, and M. Handcock. 1995. Women’s gains or men’s losses? A closer look at the shrinking gender gap. American Journal of Sociology 101.2: 302–328.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Investigates the commonly held thought that the closing of the gender wage gap in the 1980s reflected increased gains by women because they had increased their human capital. Demonstrates that much of the narrowing of the gap in incomes had to do with a growing polarization and average decline in white men’s incomes relative to incomes of others.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Budig, Michelle J., and Paula England. 2001. The wage penalty for motherhood. American Sociological Review 66.2: 204–225.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Provides a detailed exploration of the common finding that motherhood is associated with lower hourly pay. Using survey data from the 1982–1993 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the authors demonstrates a seven percent penalty in wages for each child, even after controlling for experience.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Charles, Maria, and David B. Grusky. 2004. Occupational ghettos: The worldwide segregation of women and men. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Explores the gendered segregation of occupations in ten countries (Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Japan). Focus on the differences in segregation between “manual” and “non-manual” occupations, suggesting that egalitarian ideology has allowed women to make greater gains in the latter. A very important book for those interested in occupational segregation.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Cohen, Philip N., and Matt L. Huffman. 2003. Individuals, jobs, and labor markets: The devaluation of women’s work. American Sociological Review 68.3: 443–463.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Demonstrates that the wage penalty for jobs dominated by women is weaker, though only for men, in highly integrated labor markets.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • DiPrete, Thomas A., and David B. Grusky. 1990. Structure and trend in the process of stratification for American men and women. American Journal of Sociology 96.1: 107–143.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Uses General Social Survey data to explore fluctuations in occupational attainment between 1972 and 1987. Suggests that fluctuations largely reflect changes in government policies. Also find no convincing evidence for the argument that ascriptive processes reemerged during this period.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Glenn, Evelyn Nakano. 1985. Racial/ethnic women’s labor: The intersection of race, gender and class oppression. Review of Radical Political Economics 17.3: 86–108.

                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1177/048661348501700306Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              Explores the interaction of race and gender stratification through a historical analysis of the work of minority women since the mid-19th century. Argues that minority women experience poorer employment positions not just because they are women, but also because they are members of a colonized minority.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Williams, Christine. 1992. The glass escalator: Hidden advantages for men in the “female” professions. Social Problems 39.3: 253–267.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Explores the underrepresentation of men in four predominantly female occupations. Based on interview data, argues that in contrast to women in “nontraditional” jobs, men in female-dominated occupations experience discrimination and prejudice from outside the job rather than from within in it. Further argues that men in these positions can receive higher pay then women, something the author calls the “glass escalator effect.”

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Wright, Erik O., Janeen Baxter, and Gunn Elisabeth Birkelund. 1995. The gender gap in workplace authority: A cross-national study. American Sociological Review 60.3: 407–435.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Explores the gender gap in workplace authority in seven countries (Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, and Japan). Finds considerable cross-national variation, suggesting that it can be largely explained by differences in the availability of managerial positions and the capacity of the women’s movement to challenge barriers to equal access to these positions for men and women.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Race, Ethnicity, and Class

                                                                                                                                                                                  Like gender, studies on the roles of race and ethnicity in modern societies are abundant. The goal of this section is not to provide an overview of studies on race and ethnicity, but rather to highlight some important findings on the relationship between race and ethnicity and social class, and economic inequality more generally. Given the pronounced racial divisions in the United States, it is not surprising that the vast majority of research on this topic is American. An important exception is the work by Hechter 1978 on group divisions and the cultural division of labor, which suggests that ethnic conflict is most likely when ethnicity and class coincide. Another influential work is Bonacich 1976, which argues that capitalists in the United States benefited from a split labor market, where black labor was used to undermine white laborers. Jencks 1992 and Thomas 1993 provide convincing evidence of the continuing link between race and class in the United States. Other research suggests discrimination plays a significant role in the poorer economic position of blacks than whites in the United States. For example, Keith and Herring 1991 (see also Thomas 1993) demonstrate that incomes are correlated to skin color even after controlling for other factors. Massey and Denton 1993 show that residential segregation along racial lines also has a negative impact on the socioeconomic outcomes of racial minorities. Nevertheless, other research suggests that the effects of race may be less important than those of class. For example, Fernandez and Fernandez-Mateo 2006 argue that the social networks of racial minorities are no less useful for labor market success than are the networks of whites. Lareau’s 2003 study further suggests that differences in school achievement are more likely to stem from social class differences in parenting practices rather than racial differences.

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Bonacich, Edna. 1976. Advanced capitalism and black/white race relations in the United States: A split labor market interpretation. American Sociological Review 41.1: 34–51.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Discusses the development of the black/white split labor market that emerged after the 1930s in the United States. Suggests that blacks were used by capitalists to undermine the initiatives of white worker and their unions. This resulted in blacks being excluded from the white labor movement, which in turn resulted in their more precarious position in the labor market.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Fernandez, Roberto M., and Isabel Fernandez-Mateo. 2006. Networks, race, and hiring. American Sociological Review 71.1: 42–71.

                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/000312240607100103Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      Explores the argument that racial minorities face difficulties in the labor market partly because they are not part of the right social networks to find jobs. Finds evidence that networks do affect chances of employment at several stages of the recruitment process, but finds only scant evidence that minorities are cut off from these networks. Discussion section provides avenues for future research that takes this finding into consideration.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Hechter, Michael. 1978. Group formation and the cultural division of labor. American Journal of Sociology 84.2: 293–318.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Provides a structural theory for the division between racial and ethnic groups. Argues that differences in group solidarity reflect the extent of stratification between and within the groups and the level of interaction between them. Following from Weber, emphasizes the importance of status.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Jencks, Christopher. 1992. Rethinking social policy: Race, poverty, and the underclass. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          A comprehensive review of social policy on race and poverty in the United States and how these policies affected inequality. A very convincing analysis of the connection between race and class. Controversial in its suggestion that many of the policies meant to alleviate racial differences in socioeconomic success actually make the problem worse.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Keith, Verna, and Cedric Herring. 1991. Skin tone and stratification in the Black community. American Journal of Sociology 97.3: 760–778.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Using survey data from the United States, argues that skin color is more important in predicting incomes and occupations than parental socioeconomic background. Suggests the continued prevalence of discrimination in the United States.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Lareau, Annette. 2003. Unequal childhoods: Class, race, and family life. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Demonstrates that regardless of race, middle-class parents tend to cultivate their children’s talents and skills, while working-class parents tend to allow their children’s talents to grow on their own, focusing instead on ensuring that their basic needs are met. This “concerted cultivation” by middle-class parents results in their children having higher performance.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Massey, Douglas S., and Nancy A. Denton. 1993. American apartheid: Segregation and the making of the underclass. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Demonstrates the relationship between race and poverty in the United States, paying particular attention to residential segregation. Argues that policies geared toward rectifying the poor socioeconomic conditions of minorities will fail unless they include measures to overcome the effects of discrimination in the housing market.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Thomas, Melvin E. 1993. Race, class and personal income: An empirical test of the declining significance of race. Social Problems 40.3: 328–342.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Using data from the 1980s, demonstrates that blacks continued to have lower incomes than whites, even after controlling for their education and occupations. Moreover, the difference between whites and blacks was highest among those with higher educations and occupations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Global Inequality

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Several researchers (see, for example, Morris and Western 1999 and Alderson and Nielsen 2002) have demonstrated that income inequality within most modern societies has been on the rise during the past few decades. This rise has taken place after a very long period in which inequality was declining. It has also occurred as income inequality between countries has decreased (see, for example, Firebaugh 2000 and Firebaugh and Goesling 2004). These recent trends have reinvigorated research on income inequality both within individual countries and in cross-national perspective. Research has tended to focus largely on what has caused the reversal in the trend in inequality, in particular the role of government policy, as discussed in Gustafsson and Johansson 1999, and globalization, as discussed in Alderson and Nielsen 2002 and Korzeniewicz and Moran 2009. Although most studies tend to emphasize the use of the Gini coefficient to measure income inequality, this measure is not without critics. For a good general discussion on measures of inequality, see Allison 1978. As shown in Poverty in Cross-National Perspective, there has also been renewed interest in measuring poverty and its patterns.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Alderson, Arthur S., and François Nielsen. 2002. Globalization and the great u-turn: Income inequality trends in sixteen Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. American Journal of Sociology 107:1244–1299.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    One of the first systematic studies of growing income inequality over the past few decades. Based on an analysis of trends in inequality in sixteen OECD countries, the authors argue that globalization, in particular direct investment, has a profound effect on the growth of inequality.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Allison, Paul D. 1978. Measures of inequality. American Sociological Review 43:865–880.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      A useful review and critique of various measures of inequality.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Firebaugh, Glenn. 2000. The trend in between-nation income inequality. Annual Review of Sociology 26:323–339.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.26.1.323Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Provides a review of changes in income inequality between nations. Suggests that most of the world’s income inequality is between nations, largely because incomes in the richest countries are approximately thirty times larger than those in the poorest countries. Argues that between-nation inequality has stabilized in recent decades, however.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Firebaugh, Glenn, and Brian Goesling. 2004. Accounting for the recent decline in global income inequality. American Journal of Sociology 110.2: 283–312.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          Argues that between-country global income inequality has declined in recent decades due largely to the exceptional growth of incomes in China and South Asia. Suggests, then, that globalization, and in particular the growth of industrialization in poor countries, has served to reduce global inequality.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Gustafsson, Bjorn, and Mats Johansson. 1999. In search of smoking guns: What makes income inequality vary over time in different countries? American Sociological Review 64.4:585–605.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            Suggests that both economic and other forces serve to reduce income inequality. In particular, argues that a decline of the industrial sector and unionization contribute significantly to increasing income inequality.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Korzeniewicz, Roberto Patricio, and Timothy Patrick Moran. 2009. Unveiling inequality: A world-historical perspective. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Innovative approach to inequality that argues for the importance of looking at inequality on a global scale, and in historical perspective, rather than focusing only on individual nation-states. Argues that citizenship and national identity are the most important sources of stratification in the modern world.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Morris, Martina, and Bruce Western. 1999. Inequality in earnings at the close of the twentieth century. Annual Review of Sociology 25:623–657.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                An excellent review of empirical research on income inequality, especially in the United States. Particular attention is given to the recent trend towards growing inequality.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Poverty in Cross-National Perspective

                                                                                                                                                                                                                In recent years there has been a renewed interest in the study of poverty. Particularly important in this regard is the distinction between measures of relative poverty and absolute poverty, a good discussion of which can be seen in Brady 2003 (see also Smeeding 2006). Moller, et al. 2003 demonstrate how taxes and transfers limit poverty in modern democracies. Focusing specifically on child poverty in cross-national perspective, Chen and Corak 2008 also emphasize the role of transfers and taxes, though they suggest little progress is being made in most countries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Brady, David. 2003. Rethinking the sociological measurement of poverty. Social Forces 81.3: 715–752.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1353/sof.2003.0025Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Argues that most studies on poverty have used subpar measures of the concept. Among other things, advocates the use of relative measures of poverty over absolute measures. Specifically recommends three measures: the Interval Measure, the Ordinal Measure, and the Sum of Ordinals Measure.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Chen, Wen-Hao, and Miles Corak. 2008. Child poverty and changes in child poverty. Demography 45.3: 537–553.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1353/dem.0.0024Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Uses data from the Luxembourg Income Study project to chart changes in the level of poverty in twelve OECD countries in the 1990s. Assesses the role of income transfers from the state in determining the magnitude and direction of change in child poverty rates. Concludes that in most countries, little progress has been made in reducing child poverty.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Moller, Stephanie, David Bradley, Evelyne Huber, François Nielsen, and John D. Stephens. 2003. Determinants of relative poverty in advanced capitalist democracies. American Sociological Review 68.1: 22–51.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Uses Luxembourg Income Study and pooled time-series data from fourteen modern democracies between 1970 and 1997 to explore the effects of taxes and transfers on the reduction of relative poverty.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Smeeding, Timothy. 2006. Poor people in rich nations: The United States in comparative perspective. Journal of Economic Perspectives 20.1: 69.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Uses data from the Luxembourg Income Study to explore the relationship between antipoverty policy and outcomes in several countries. Also provides an excellent review of measures of poverty.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Work and Labor Markets

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Braverman 1974 heavily influenced the sociology of work when he argued that work was becoming increasingly deskilled. He held that this phenomenon had dire consequences for workers, such as making work less rewarding and shifting the balance of power to the capitalists. Bell 1976 provided an alternative view when he argued that routine manual work was becoming increasingly replaced by work requiring special knowledge and skills. More recently, emphasis has also been placed on precarious work. As Kalleberg 2009 demonstrates, work characterized by less security and fewer benefits has been on the rise over the past few decades. Changes in the nature of work also raise the question of the declining role of unions. In this regard, Western 1995 indicates that union decline has resulted from a drastic reorganization of labor market institutions and a decline in the influence of social democratic parties. Structural change and the role of institutions in shaping labor market outcomes has also received a significant amount of attention. As Gerber 2002 demonstrates, these structural changes are particularly important in former Soviet countries. Kalleberg and Sorensen 1979 provide an excellent general overview of early research on work and labor markets. A more recent update is given by Kerckhoff 1995, which also focuses on the role of educational institutions. More recently, as the section on Relational Approach to Inequality indicates, a new tradition on the relational nature of various inequalities within workplaces has emerged.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Bell, Daniel. 1976. The coming of post-industrial society: A venture in social forecasting. New York: Basic Books.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A seminal work from the viewpoint of postindustrialism. Argues modern societies have entered a postindustrial age, with class relations taking on a quite different form characterized by greater emphasis on the importance of education. The growth of the professional and technical sectors, and the necessary increase in human capital that results, leads to a growth in the importance of the knowledge sector.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Braverman, Harry. 1974. Labor and monopoly capital: The degradation of work in the twentieth century. New York: Monthly Review Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This book revived Marx’s labor process theory in the 1970s. Argues that capitalists remove power from factory workers by simplifying and standardizing the tasks they do on the job.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Breen, Richard. 2005. Explaining cross-national variation in youth unemployment: Market and institutional factors. European Sociological Review 21.2: 125–134.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1093/esr/jci008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Uses data from twenty-seven OECD countries to explore variation in youth unemployment. Demonstrates that youth unemployment is affected by both the type of education system and the level of labor market regulation, in particular the degree to which employers are prevented from dismissing workers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Gerber, Ted. 2002. Structural change and post-socialist stratification: labor market transitions in contemporary Russia. American Sociological Review 67.5: 629–659.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                An important study on changing stratification patterns in terms of labor market outcomes in a transitional economy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Kalleberg, Arne L. 2009. Precarious work, insecure workers: Employment relations in transition. American Sociological Review 74: 1–22.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1177/000312240907400101Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Discusses the growth of precarious work since the 1970s, arguing that it has serious implications for stratification. Suggests that sociologists are well-positioned to understand the causes and consequences of changes in employment relations associated with the growth in precarious work.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Kalleberg, Arne, and Aage Sorensen. 1979. The sociology of labor markets. Annual Review of Sociology 5:351–379.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A good overview of research in the area of labor markets until the late 1970s.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Kerckhoff, Alan. 1995. Institutional arrangements and stratification processes in industrial societies. Annual Review of Sociology 21: 323–347.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1146/annurev.so.21.080195.001543Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A good review of research in the status attainment model tradition that considers the role of educational and labor market institutions, which structure the relationship between socioeconomic background and socioeconomic destinations. Makes some suggestions for future research in the area.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Western, Bruce. 1995. A comparative study of working-class disorganization: Union decline in eighteen advanced capitalist countries. American Sociological Review 60.2: 179–201.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Assess the decline of unionization in eighteen OECD countries. Argues that union decline resulted largely from a fundamental reorganization of labor market institutions and the decline in influence of social democratic parties.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Relational Approach to Inequality

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Charles Tilly’s 1999 Durable Inequality called for a new approach to the study of stratification that focuses on the relational sources of inequality. In short, Tilly argues that inequalities tend to be based on categorical distinctions between people, and can last from one interaction to the next. These inequalities can endure throughout out one’s career, organizational history, or even through an entire lifetime. Others, such as Tomaskovic-Devey, et al. 2009 and Stainback, et al. 2010 have applied this approach to workplaces and other organizations. Their findings quite convincingly show that organizational structures have an important impact on within class inequality.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Stainback, Kevin, Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, and Sheryl Skaggs. 2010. Organizational approaches to inequality: Inertia, relative power, and environments. Annual Review of Sociology 36:225–247.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1146/annurev-soc-070308-120014Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Provides a good review of research focusing on the role of organizations in producing inequalities. Argues that organizational structures, and the relative power of individuals within those structures, should be taken into account when studying stratification.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Tilly, Charles. 1999. Durable inequality. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            An ambitious work of social theory, this influential book argues for the importance of examining relational sources of inequality. Suggests that “durable inequalities,” which are built around categorical differences between people, tend to persist from one interaction to the next, lasting through careers, organizational histories, and even lifetimes.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Tomaskovic-Devey, Donald, Dustin Avent-Holt, Catherine Zimmer, and Sandra Harding. 2009. The categorical generation of organizational inequality: A comparative test of tilly’s durable inequality. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 27.3: 128–142.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1016/j.rssm.2009.04.004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Provides an empirical test of Tilly’s idea that inequalities are inherently relational and categorical. Provides evidence of this thesis by demonstrating that class inequalities are largest in firms with predominately women as workers and men as managers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Inequality, Institutions, and the State

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It is almost universally accepted that the modern welfare states have had a profound effect on the level and nature of inequality within capitalist democracies. Most notable in Esping-Andersen 1990 and Korpi and Palme 1998, the “power resources” approach to development of the welfare state, which emphasizes the democratic power struggle between classes, has been particularly influential since the 1980s. More recently, Brooks and Manza 2007 provide evidence that welfare state policies reflect public opinion. Regardless of how they develop, state polices have a profound effect on socioeconomic outcomes. Esping-Andersen 1990 describes three types of welfare states based on the type of extent of social policies that have differing effects on inequality. Other studies that explore specific types of policies provide similar types of findings. For example, Gangl 2004 suggests that countries with more extensive unemployment benefits are better able to ensure that the unemployed are better off not just while unemployed, but also in terms of labor market outcomes later on. Moreover, Mandel and Semyonov 2005 and Stier, et al. 2001 demonstrate that welfare states can have profound effects on the gender gap in earnings. Wallerstein 1999 argues that countries with extensive wage-setting institutions are better able to curve income inequality. As Allmendinger 1989 demonstrates, the state can also have profound effects on stratification, through the type of education system.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Allmendinger, Jutta. 1989. Educational systems and labor market outcomes. European Sociological Review 5.3: 231–250.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Provides a typology for the classification of education systems based on their level of standardization and stratification. Demonstrates that education systems have a profound effect on labor market outcomes.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Brooks, Clem, and Jeff Manza. 2007. Why welfare states persist: The importance of public opinion. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A landmark study on the persistence of welfare states. Uses public opinion and social expenditure data from several countries to demonstrate the importance of public opinion for social policy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta. 1990. The three worlds of welfare capitalism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Divides welfare state regimes into three types—liberal, corporatist-statist (or conservative) and social democratic—based on their social policies. Innovative for its emphasis on the decommodification of labor. A highly influential book. Much of the research on the political economy of the welfare state over the past two decades has cited it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Gangl, Markus. 2004. Welfare states and the scar effects of unemployment: A comparative analysis of the United States and West Germany. American Journal of Sociology 109.6: 1319–1364.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Uses employment history data from the United States and Germany to demonstrate that unemployment benefits have a positive effect on the type of post-unemployment jobs workers enter. Argues that the higher benefits for German workers compared to US workers accounts for up to 20 percent of the smaller cumulative disadvantages of unemployment experienced by the former.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Korpi, Walter, and Joakim Palme. 1998. The paradox of redistribution and strategies of equality: Welfare state institutions, inequality, and poverty in the Western countries. American Sociological Review 63.5: 661–687.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A very influential article contributing to the debate on the relationship between social policy and inequality. Suggests that unemployment benefits and other social policies targeted toward the poor are less effective in reducing poverty and inequality than universal policies characterized by unequal benefits that are positively correlated with previous incomes.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Mandel, Hadas, and Moshe Semyonov. 2005. Family policies, wage structures, and gender gaps: Sources of earnings inequality in 20 countries. American Sociological Review 70.6: 949–967.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/000312240507000604Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Uses Luxembourg Income Study data on twenty countries to examine the role of family-friendly state policies on women’s incomes. Concludes that lower earning differentials between men and women in social welfare states can be attributed largely to their more egalitarian wage structures, rather than family-friendly policies.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Stier, Haya, Noah Lewin-Epstein, and Michael Braun. 2001. Welfare regimes, family-supportive policies, and women’s employment along the life-course. American Journal of Sociology 106.6: 1731–1760.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Using data on women’s employment patterns from twelve countries, demonstrates that institutional arrangements mediate some of the labor market costs for women during the child-rearing period and afterward. Argues that lower state support for mothers’ employment is associated with higher penalties for intermittent work caused by child rearing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Wallerstein, Michael. 1999. Wage-setting institutions and pay inequality in advanced industrial societies. American Journal of Political Science 43.3: 649–680.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Explores the relationship between the level of centralized wage-setting in the country and wage differentials in sixteen countries during the period form 1980 to 1992. Argues that wage setting matters more than any other macro-level factor. Moreover, after controlling for wage setting institutions, other macro-level variables have little effect.

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