Social Change and Innovation in the Labour Market: Evidence from the Census SARs on Occupational Segregation and Labour Mobility, Part-Time Work and Student Jobs, Homework and Self-Employment

By Catherine Hakim | Go to book overview

3
Occupational Segregation, Social Stratification, and the Pay Gap

This chapter considers the relationship between occupational segregation, social stratification, and the sex differential in earnings. Social inequality and economic inequality are obviously linked ( Marshallet al., 1988). Their relationship to the sex-segregation of occupations is not self-evident. Hartmann was clear that occupational segregation is a patriarchal practice, being the primary mechanism in capitalist society for maintaining the superiority of men over women because it enforces lower wages for women in the labour market. But she was also clear that there are no social class exemptions from patriarchy, and that all men, workers as well as employers, contribute to the maintenance and constant renewal of occupational segregation and the maintenance of women's inferiority in the labour market ( Hartmann, 1976: 139). Men enjoyed only the single oppression of capitalism, whereas women confronted the double burden of capitalism and patriarchy ( Hartmann, 1976: 168). Subsequent writers have sought to develop the idea of interactions between class and sex inequalities, with no real success to date, as McRae ( 1990) points out. However, recent historical research has undermined Hartmann's thesis, showing that occupational segregation was introduced in the late nineteenth century to ensure the physical rather than the economic segregation of men and women ( Humphries, 1987) and that trends in occupational segregation are not related to trends in the pay gap ( Hakim, 1994, 1996a: 80-2, 170-7).

The information contained in the SARs is too limited to allow us to fully address these broad theoretical issues. However, the large size of the SAR files enables us to explore the relationship between occupational segregation, social stratification, and the pay gap in far more detail than is possible with ordinary sample survey datasets.


OCCUPATIONAL SEGREGATION AND
SOCIAL STRATIFICATION

Occupational segregation and social stratification are theoretically separate areas of inquiry. Both deal with social and economic inequalities, and there is an extensive literature considering whether and how sexual and class

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