Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Classification Schemes of Class Classification Schemes: A Request for Help

I apologize for a long post today. The detail matters for the question I am asking you.

I am studying the different fractions of the college-going class.

I post all of this to ask your help in thinking about how, exactly, to classify all the occupations I have collected. I want to be able to test whether there really are differences in the way of life of the "corporate management" fraction and the "knowledge professional" fraction of the college-educated class. I use these terms not to presume the answer to the question I am asking, but to give you an idea of the distinction I am after.

As part of this research, I have surveyed some of the alumni in the Centre College. I asked them for their specific occupational descriptions (my example was "sociology professor at a small college"). I also know their household income, highest education level, the specific college (obviously) and graduate school they attended, and the same for their spouses. In an experimental question, I also asked them to place themselves using the categories Upper management, Middle management, Professional, Knowledge industry, Creative class, Entrepreneur, Artisan, Worker, Homemaker, Leisure.

I am drawing upon the previous work of Joseph Soares, Pierre Bourdieu, Michele Lamont, and Richard Florida. Soares made my immediate model for this survey. Bourdieu produced the larger theory I am testing. Lamont is the best effort to apply Bourdieu. Florida is an alternative theory.

Below is a summary of their four classification schemes, then the author’s examples.

Soares: Professional, top 10% of income vs. Non-professional, top 10% of income
Florida: Super-Creative Core vs. Creative Professionals
Bourdieu: Dominated fraction, dominant class vs. Dominant fraction, dominant class
Lamont: Cultural and social specialists in the public, nonprofit, private sectors (including profit-related occupations in the public and non-profit sectors) vs. Profit-related occupations, private sector (both salaried and self-employed).

Below are some details and examples.

Joseph Soares, in Power and Privilege, was obliged to use the fairly rough "professional/not" categories in the National Educational Longitudinal Survey. His studies of Yale and Wake Forest alumni are my immediate models for this study.

Richard Florida, in The Rise of the Creative Class (69ff), contrasts the "Super-Creative Core" -
Scientists and engineers; University professors; Poets and novelists; Artists; Entertainers; Actors; Designers and architects; Non-fiction writers; Editors; Cultural figures; Think-tank researchers; Analysts; Other opinion makers - who are “producing new forms or designs that are readily transferable and widely useful” with the "Creative Professionals" - High-tech sector; Financial services; Legal profession; Health-care profession; Business management; Technicians (borderline) - who “engage in creative problem solving, drawing on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems.”

Pierre Bourdieu, in Distinction (Appendix 1) contrasts a (dominant) class fraction made of Commercial and Industrial employers with another (dominated) class fraction made of Public-sector executives; Engineers; Private-sector executives; Professions; Secondary teachers; Higher-education teachers; Artistic producers.

Michele Lamont, in Money, Morals, and Manners, separates her upper-middle class sample thus:

Cultural and social specialists, public and nonprofit sectors
Public school administrator; Academic administrator; Earth science teacher; Minister; Museum curator; Artist; Science teacher; Social work professor; Theology professor; Recreation professional; Civil servant; Computer specialist

Cultural and social specialists, private sector, profit-related occupations, public and non-profit sectors
Applied science researcher; Human resources consultant; Psychologist; Hospital administrator; Statistics researcher; Computer researcher; Economist; Labor arbitrator

Profit-related occupations, private sector (salaried)
Investment advisor; Chief financial officer; Banker; Insurance company v.p.; Plant facility manager; Corporate attorney; Computer specialist; Marketing executive; Computer software developer

Profit-related occupations, private sector (self-employed)
Lawyer; Portfolio manager; Computer consultant; Realtor; Custom house broker; Wholesale distributor; Proprietary broadcasting company; Proprietary car leasing company.

In Lamont, the first two make one fraction, the second, another.


Balkan Barbie said...


Gruntled said...

This post is at your special request, Balkan Barbie, so I am looking for your brains (creative class activity) especially.

balkan said...

Thank you for the post. I've had movers in my house all day, while writing the ProQuest abstract of the dissertation. Father and son team. 'Cause when one works really, really hard, for six years, one has such a job that the employer takes care of the moving. Well, they say I'm in the dominated class, since I'm a professor, but I don't feel that way today. Today, I feel that all that work is starting to turn life around. I'll re-read your post and write more about the theories part tomorrow morning. Thanks again for sharing it.

Gruntled said...

That is a darn good excuse (not that you actually needed one).