Social Structure and Occupations
Why is it that so many official forms and questionnaires contain questions about one’s occupation, or one’s father’s occupation, or one’s spouse’s occupation? Why do introductions at cocktail parties or in bars so frequently involve the exchange of information about occupations? One plausible explanation is that occupational titles provide socially useful information about people. In the situation of informal social interaction, mere observation allows us to discover such things as the sex, age, accent, physical attractiveness, ethnicity, or whatever, of our co-participants. Being told the occupations pursued by the people one is chatting to seems to be thought of as adding to the information that could be gained solely by observation. When taken in context with age and sex, it gives some indication of a person’s likely income bracket, educational level, housing area, and style of life. It also provides a starting point for further conversation.
KeywordsClass Structure Occupational Prestige External Reality Occupational Title Social Stereotype
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