|HIS-CAM. Presentation and evaluation of an historical occupational stratification scale|
|To discover how occupations are stratified, sociologists rely on empirical analyses of individual level data (such as by asking people for their own ideas on how occupations are ranked, or by calculating average income and educational levels within selected occupations). But what can be done when individual level data cannot easily be obtained – how could one undertake an empirical analysis of the structure of occupational stratification in the past? Based on Weber’s idea that people interact more often the closer they are in terms of social standing, the analysis of data on social interactions between people in different occupations could be used for this purpose.
Using 1.5 million marriage records from six different countries between 1800 and 1938, an occupational stratification scale for that period, ‘HIS-CAM v.0.1’, was created (Maas et al. 2006). Although this scale proved to be comparable with contemporary stratification scales and was successfully deployed in a number of studies, it also raised the issue of whether the stratification structure of the past could be captured in a single universal scale. Initial analyses indicated many small regional, temporal and gender differences in the structure of occupational stratification. In this paper, we report on subsequent research which uses further data and explores more fully the possibility of differences between a single universal, and many ‘specific’, occupational stratification scales over this period. HIS-CAM v.0.2 improves on version v.0.1 by supplementing the original research with additional data from two further countries, Norway and the US, and by exploiting additional marriage data for those countries already included in the previous study. By systematising decision rules on the construction of region, time and gender specific scales, a large number of specific scales are estimated and evaluated, allowing for more detailed conclusions on the nature of change in structures of occupational stratification.
Marco van Leeuwen