The American Class Structure

By Joseph A. Kahl | Go to book overview

IX
Succession and Mobility: The Occupational Base

I DON'T THINK THAT THE MANAGEMENT PICKS ITS SUCCESSORS; I THINK THAT THE SUCCESSORS JUST RISE BY THEIR OWN ABILITY AND THE FORCE OF THEIR OWN PERSONALITIES. IT'S PERFECTLY OBVIOUS WHO IS COMING TO THE TOP. An Executive

WHAT'S THE USE OF TRYING TO GET SOMEPLACE AROUND HERE-- THE BOSS IS TRAINING HIS SON TO TAKE OVER. A Worker [1]

AS EACH GENERATION succeeds its predecessor, there occurs a vast sifting process that places individuals into class levels. If a society were completely "open," the forces of pure competition would sort people according to their native talent and the effort with which they used their talent. No man would get help or hindrance from his father in the competition for worldly success.

Reality does not match the logical model of the completely open society. Talent is partly inherited, and more important, perhaps, is the fact that a family greatly influences the motivation of a son and thus shapes his ambitions and his drive for success. In addition, there are limitations on the free play of competition in the market which bias the distribution of rewards. Education is necessary before talent can be properly exploited, and it is expensive in tuition and in the less obvious costs of supporting a boy while he studies and replacing the income that he might otherwise be contributing to his family. Furthermore, once he is out of school, a boy gains advantages if his father has money or connections or even a distinguished name in the community. There are limitations on free competition because the stratification variables influence one another, because occupation, money, connections, and values are interdependent, and through the family are passed on from one generation to the next. This is sufficient reason, even if there were no other, to speak of a class system instead of a collection of separate stratification variables.

-251-

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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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