The American Class Structure

By Joseph A. Kahl | Go to book overview

III
Occupational Prestige and Social Change

IN ANY GIVEN SOCIETY, THE MORE OCCUPATIONAL WORK CONSISTS IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THE FUNCTIONS OF SOCIAL ORGANIZATION AND CONTROL, AND THE HIGHER THE DEGREE OF INTELLIGENCE NECESSARY FOR ITS SUCCESSFUL PERFORMANCE, THE MORE PRIVILEGED IS THAT GROUP AND THE HIGHER RANK DOES IT OCCUPY. Pitirim Sorokin [1]

IN THE RESEARCH reported in the last chapter, Warner found that a man's occupation was the variable which correlated most highly with the prestige rank granted his family by the local community. There are several reasons why occupation and prestige are so highly related. In the first place, a man's occupation is the source of his income, which in turn provides the style of life that serves as one of the major clues used by his neighbors in making their evaluations. But occupation stands for more than merely a certain level of income. It indicates a man's education; it suggests the type of associates he comes in contact with on the job; it tells something of the contribution he makes to community-welfare; it hints at the degree of his authority over other people.

Occupation is a convenient variable to work with. Unlike personal prestige, I it is not tied to the particular circumstances of a local community, for it has meaning that is about the same throughout the country, and this meaning has remained relatively stable for a long period of time. Therefore it is possible to compare the occupational hierarchies of different communities and different historical epochs.


MIDDLETOWN

There is one sociological community study which emphasizes, the occupational changes that have occurred in the recent past, the research on "Middletown." It began when Robert S. Lynd and his wife Helen Merrell Lynd (he is now at Columbia University, she at Sarah Lawrence College) went to Indiana to describe a "typical" American

-53-

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The American Class Structure
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xiii
  • Tables xvii
  • Figures xviii
  • I - The Dimensions of Class 1
  • References 16
  • II - Position and Prestige 19
  • Conclusions 47
  • References 49
  • III - Occupational Prestige and Social Change 53
  • Conclusions 85
  • References 87
  • IV - Income, Wealth, and Style of Life 91
  • Conclusions 119
  • References 122
  • V - The Web of Interaction 127
  • Conclusions 153
  • References 154
  • VI - Class Consciousness and Political Ideology 157
  • Conclusions 180
  • References 181
  • VII - Classes as Ideal Types: Emergent Values 184
  • Conclusions 215
  • References 218
  • VIII - Ethnic and Race Barriers 221
  • Conclusions 247
  • References 248
  • IX - Succession and Mobility: the Occupational Base 251
  • Conclusions 271
  • References 272
  • X - Succession and Mobility: Motivation and Education 276
  • Conclusions 293
  • References 294
  • Index 301
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