Technological Change, Tasks and Class Inequality in Europe

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Neo-Weberian occupational class schemas, rooted in industrial-age employment relations, are a standard socio-economic position measure in social stratification. Previous research highlighted Erikson-Goldthorpe-Portocarero (EGP)-based schemas’ difficulties in keeping up with changing labour markets, but few tested alternative explanations. This article explores how job tasks linked to technological change and rising economic inequality might confound the links between employment relations, classes, and life chances. Using the European Working Conditions Survey covering the European Union (EU)-27 countries, this article analyses over time and by gender: 1) the task distribution between social classes; and 2) whether tasks predict class membership and life chances. Decomposition analyses suggest that tasks explain class membership and wage inequality better than theorised employment relations. However, intellectual/routine tasks and digital tools driving income inequality are well-stratified by occupational classes. Therefore, this article does not argue for a class (schema) revolution but for fine-tuning the old instrument to portray market inequalities in the digital age.




Gil-Hernández, C. J., Vidal, G., & Torrejón Perez, S. (2023). Technological Change, Tasks and Class Inequality in Europe. Work, Employment and Society.

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