Individual or Family? Results from Two Approaches to Class Assignment

  • Erikson R
  • Goldthorpe J
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With the individual approach to class assignment, every person is assigned a class position in accordance with his or her own employment, whereas with the conventional approach members of a family are all assigned the same class position according to the employment of the family head. It has recently been claimed that the conventional approach is outmoded because of the increasing numbers of married women entering the labour market and that the individual approach should therefore be used. In this paper it is shown that in several nations employed married women's class identification and political partisanship are more closely associated with their spouse's class than with their own, as determined by the individual approach. It is concluded that those who prefer this latter approach must in turn accept that women tend to have a weaker class consciousness than men and likewise have lower levels of class voting. On the basis of the results reported, we suggest that the conventional approach still provides a more valid account of the class positions of men and women than does the individual approach.

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  • Robert Erikson

  • John H. Goldthorpe

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