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Occupation, Gender and Social Status. Questioning the Gender-Neutrality of Status Scales in Contemporary France

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  • Anne-Sophie Cousteaux


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    Social distance scales can be defined in contemporary Western societies, based on the Weberian assertion that “social status” could be observed through close relationships between individuals, like marriage or friendship (see T.W. Chan, J. Goldthorpe, 2004). Here, we will consider scales built in France on the basis of the homogamy tendency. Our main concern will be on the gender neutrality of these scales. Indeed, whereas Goldthorpe and Chan assert that the status hierarchy is gender-neutral, they underline, using a multidimensional scaling analysis of the British matrix of friendship, that a second dimension expresses the degree of sex segregation of occupational categories. The aim of this paper is to assess this result when gender differences are more accurately taken into account than they are in previous analysis. That’s why we include non-working population, people without partners and part-time work for women. When taking into account all these elements, can we still assert that men and women in a same occupational category always have an equivalent status? More theoretically, is occupation sufficient to define social status ? The data come from the Echantillon Démographique Permanent (permanent demographic sample). The analysis will cover only 30-59 years old men and women in 1999. The method used is Multidimensional scaling. Hierarchy of status is actually similar for both genders, even if clear differences in scores appear for some categories. However, second dimensions are not correlated, thus revealing distinct overall structure by gender. When full-time/part-time work status is introduced among women’s occupational categories, it reveals the valuation of higher and intermediate categories working part-time compared to their counterparts working full-time. Finally, these findings question the meaning of social distance scales based on occupation only, and advocate taking into account the combination of family and occupational roles for a better appraisal of gender differences in social status.

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    Paper provided by Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique in its series Working Papers with number 2006-34.

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    Length: 27
    Date of creation: 2006
    Handle: RePEc:crs:wpaper:2006-34
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