Generating Social Stratification: Toward a New Research Agenda

Generating Social Stratification: Toward a New Research Agenda

Generating Social Stratification: Toward a New Research Agenda

Generating Social Stratification: Toward a New Research Agenda

Synopsis

In this book some of the leading stratification scholars in the U. S. present empirical and theoretical essays about the institutional contexts that shape careers. Building on recent advances in theory, data, and analytic technique, the essays in this volume work toward the goal of identifying and assessing the processes by which a birth cohort is distributed in the stratification system, given their positions of origin in that system. Alan Kerckhoff's introduction situates the studies in this volume within the context of previous stratification research over several generations, making the book an invaluable resource for scholars and graduate students.

Excerpt

Ganzeboom,Treiman and Ultee (1991) refer to three generations of social stratification research. In the first generation, research was concerned with comparing tables that cross-classified categories of the occupational positions of fathers and sons as they varied across societies and over time. They see the second generation as having begun with Blau and Duncan (1967) introduction of a "basic model" of status attainment. That model shifted the focus from father-son comparisons to stages in a process by which sons are distributed in a continuous status hierarchy. The third, most recent, generation of stratification research, they observe, has returned to the earlier focus on tables of parent-child locations in occupational or social class categories, although the current analyses are much more intricate due to more sophisticated theories, new analytic models, and much better data.

This volume could be viewed as a continuation of what Ganzeboom et al. call the second generation, but I prefer to see it as part of an emerging fourth generation of stratification research. It clearly has many of the features of the second generation, but the kind of research reflected in this volume moves us well beyond the second. And, as with the comparison of the first and third generations, the advance has been due to improvements at the level of theory, analytic techniques, and improved data sources.

The difference between the first and third generations, on the one hand, and the second and fourth, on the other, is the focus of the latter two on stratification processes. Rather than modeling patterns of intergenerational or career mobility, the goal is to identify and take account of the processes by which a birth cohort is distributed in the stratification system, given their positions of origin in that system. It is increasingly apparent that this is an awesome task, and we are far from reaching that goal. Yet, there have been important gains during the past two decades, many of which are reflected in the chapters of this book.

Ever since Blau and Duncan (1967) introduction of a path model conceptualization, there has been a tendency to look at the overall stratification process as having three cumulative stages: the process by which social origins affect educational attainments; the process by which origins and educational attainments affect the level of labor force entry; the process by which origins, educational attainments, and first jobs affect workers' moves from their initial positions to later positions in the labor force. The . . .

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