New Barriers and Continuing Constraints
Edited by Jacqueline Scott, Rosemary Crompton and Clare Lyonette
Chapter 2: Class Reproduction, Occupational Inheritance and Occupational Choices
Fiona Devine When class analysis was seriously challenged by its critics in the 1990s, it was robustly defended by its practitioners. Since then, sociologists within the sub-discipline have continued to debate the ways in which the study of class inequalities, and especially the persistence of those inequalities, should proceed. On the one hand, the American sociologist, David Grusky, has argued that class analysis should be refashioned to include different levels of analysis, focus on occupational inheritance and social closure and the socio-cultural dimensions of social reproduction. On the other hand, the British sociologist, John Goldthorpe, has insisted that class analysis should stick with its macro sociological concerns, concentrating on big classes and their shared economic characteristics, in explaining class reproduction. Both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses, of course, although Gruksy’s ideas are pursued here. This chapter draws on a micro-level analysis of occupations and taps into the socio-cultural dimensions of occupations for what it reveals about processes of class reproduction. Specifically, the chapter focuses on occupational inheritance and occupational choices. What occupational aspirations do parents have for their children? With issues of gender in mind, do fathers and mothers have similar or different hopes for their sons and daughters? The next section outlines the theoretical debate between Grusky and Goldthorpe more fully. The third section describes the research on which this chapter is based: namely, interviews with doctors, teachers and their husbands and wives. The fourth section concentrates on doctors, and reveals modest levels of occupational inheritance. As yet...
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