THE STRUCTURE OF THE LABOR MARKET
Every community in its daily operation reflects various sets of norms or standards which people hold. Such standards involve diverse areas of life such as what teen-agers should wear, whether women should work, how to rear children, and how to entertain in the home. One of the most significant is the definition of occupational roles and economic opportunities. What can be more important to citizens of an industrial city than the community definitions concerning who shall hold which jobs and how shall people make a living? The problem here is to describe how the distribution of occupational roles is related to other aspects of social life in the community.
If economic behavior were the lifeless phenomenon sometimes portrayed in economic models, then the only significant attributes of occupations would be their skill and the supply and demand for them. But occupations are broadly sociological rather than narrowly economic, and hence are crucially identified with noneconomic phenomena in the community. This is not a new condition and certainly one not unique to market economies. The relationship between social status and economic activity has ancient roots. In classical antiquity as well as in the feudal estate systems of the Middle Ages, economic endeavor was differentially distributed among slaves, freemen, or "strangers."1 In caste societies economic activities parallel social and caste differentiation.2 Among primitive peoples and among all other tradition-controlled societies, the economic realm is separable from the social only analytically, and then with great difficulty.3
In urban industrial societies economic activity and the accumulation of material possessions reflect what Polanyi has called the "disembedded" condition of the economy in relation to society;4 that is, the economy stands, and may be analyzed, as a phenomenon apart from the rest of