The Social Origins of High School Teachers in a Canadian City

  • Frank E. Jones


In both the United States1 and Great Britain2 the rate of mobility into professional occupations has been increasing in recent decades. The increase may, however, vary markedly among occupations within the same broad occupational category, and the variations may be important in assessing how a society utilizes its work force and what employment opportunities are open to individuals of different social origins. Stuart Adams, who studied the social origins of persons employed in five occupations of considerable prestige,3 found that “access to high status or elite occupations appears to be growing easier” in the United States, but he showed that access was easiest to high school teaching, which had the least prestige of the five occupations he examined.


High School Teaching High School Teacher Social Origin Occupational Mobility Urban Background 
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  1. 1.
    Natalie Rogoff, Occupational Mobility (Glencoe, Ill., 1953), chapter 4.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    D. V. Glass (ed.), Social Mobility in Great Britain (London, 1954), Table 12A, p. 201.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Stuart Adams, “Origins of American Occupational Elites”, American Journal of Sociology, LXII (1957), pp. 360–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Adams’s study is especially useful for the information it contributes about four professional occupations. While there has been considerable research on the social origins of persons in élite business occupations (cf. S. M. Lipset and R. Bendix, Social Mobility in Industrial Society [Berkeley, 1959];Google Scholar
  5. F. W. Taussig and C. S. Joslyn, American Business Leaders [New York, 1932];Google Scholar
  6. and W. L. Warner and J. Abegglen, Occupational Mobility [Minneapolis, 1955]), there has been far less interest in the social origins of persons in professional occupations. For Canada, although John Porter’s papers on élite occupations (“The Economic Elite and the Social Structure in Canada”, this volume, Part VIII/49, and “Higher Public Servants and the Bureaucratic Elite in Canada”, Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science, XXIV, No. 4 [November 1958], pp. 483–501) and Rocher and de Jocas’s study of occupational mobility (“Inter- Generation Occupational Mobility in the Province of Quebec”, this volume, Part VIII/46) provide data on the social origins of various occupations, the studies were limited to a single time period and consequently cannot provide statements about trends.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    “Origins of American Occupational Elites”. A similar trend was evident among teachers in primary and secondary schools in England and Wales, where the proportions of teachers whose fathers were professionals or held higher administrative positions decreased over time, defined in terms of entry into teaching in time periods ranging from before 1919 to after 1945. When emergency- trained. teachers are excluded, the greatest gains in this period were virtually monopolized by persons of lower middle-class origins. Emergency-training gave the advantage to persons of lower-class origins. However, an estimate of the percentage of persons entering teaching among those leaving school at the age of seventeen revealed a decrease in working-class representation in the teaching profession in England and Wales. See Jean Floud and W. Scott, “Recruitment to Teaching in England and Wales”, in A. H. Halsey, Jean Floud, and C. Arnold Anderson (eds.), Education, Economy and Society (New York, 1961).Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    This is suggested by the inverse relation between school drop-outs and socio-economic status; see Your Child Leaves School, Report No. 2 (Toronto: Canadian Research Committee on Practical Education, 1950). See also Oswald Hall, “The Stages of a Medical Career”, American Journal of Sociology, XLIII, No. 5 (1948), pp. 327–36, for a statement of the social factors influencing the formation of aspirations toward a career in medicine.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 14.
    See D. C. Miller and W. Form, Industrial Sociology (New York, 1951), chapters 18 and 19, for a discussion of trial and stable work periods.Google Scholar
  10. 16.
    See Richard M. Stephenson, “Mobility Orientation and Stratification of 1,000 Ninth-Graders”, American Sociology Review, XXII, No. 2 (1957), p. 210. In this study, among the three occupations most frequently cited by female respondents, teaching is clearly the leading choice among those of high status, whether expressed as an occupational aspiration or a realistic expectation of future employment.Google Scholar

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© The Macmillan Company of Canada Limited 1968

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  • Frank E. Jones

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