Social Class and Occupations

The labor market of contemporary societies is rife with "social classes" that take the form of occupations (e.g., architect, carpenter) or aggregates of occupations (e.g., professional, craft worker). The main task of the class analyst is to understand whether such classes are (a) becoming more or less well-formed in the labor market, and (b) becoming increasingly consequential for behaviors of all kind (e.g., voting, leisure).

Trends in class formation

Is the takeoff in earnings inequality occurring because some occupations are doing especially well (e.g., managers, lawyers) while others are becoming ever poorer (e.g., fast-food workers)? Or is earnings inequality increasing because, within each occupation, the income of some workers is taking off and the income of other workers is lagging? Are workers now committing themselves to the same occupation for their entire life? Or do they increasingly move from one occupation to another?

Effects of class membership

Do professionals vote differently than blue-collar workers? Do they spend their leisure time differently? Do they raise their children in ways that prepare them more successfully for school and subsequent labor market success?

"When the rich wage war it is the poor who die." - Jean-Paul Sartre


Explore All Media and Affiliates

Click on the active buttons for a full listing of all the important policy analysis, basic research, or journalism addressing this key issue. Also explore our working papers addressing this key issue and our affiliates with expertise in this key issue.

Policy: What Should Be Done? Research and Cutting-Edge Science Journalism and Popular Scholarship Working Papers Affiliates