English title: Class Clues

Author(s): Michael Tåhlin -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2007


Despite recurrent controversy, class theory remains the major sociological explanation of social inequality. While there are several approaches to class theory, one particular model has achieved dominance in empirical research over the last decades: the EGP (or Goldthorpe) class schema. In this article, the theoretical foundations of this model are tested empirically on the basis of unique Swedish data on employment relations. The outcome of the test is decisively negative for the theory. Reciprocal dependence relations between workers and employers—at the center of attention in current conceptual accounts, but never before explicitly measured—are conspicuously unimportant in a class context. Instead, the main source of class advantage among employees is the skill content of jobs. This accords well with parts of the early theoretical justifications of the EGP class model, elements that have since been abandoned. It is suggested that future theoretical work on class inequality should return to the skill-based roots of the model and proceed from there. Such a return is additionally motivated by a wealth of evidence from the literature on work-life stratification that class research has so far tended to ignore.

Volume: 23

Issue: 5

From page no: 557

To page no: 572

Refereed: Yes

DOI: 10.1093/ESR/JCM019

Journal: European Sociological Review

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