Variable Construction in the Study of the Middle Class
In this chapter I discuss the methods I used to identify class boundaries for the five different class theories of the middle class. I discuss the data sources used in the study, my construction of the class categories relevant to each of the five theories of the middle class, and the operationalization of the dependent variable, political ideology.
The Class Structure and Class Consciousness Survey, coordinated by Erik Olin Wright, is a multinational survey designed to help scholars map the class structure of advanced capitalist countries and identify the class consciousness or political ideology of residents within those countries. The survey is useful for its inclusion of data on employment status, education, managerial status, job autonomy and authority, and income, allowing scholars to develop sophisticated indicators of class location. Several country surveys have been conducted, creating a large data file available for international comparative studies of class structure and class consciousness. For this study, the United States Survey and the Swedish Survey were used.
The U.S. survey employed a systematic two-stage cluster sample of telephone numbers in the coterminous United States. First,