British Journal of Sociology

Published by Wiley

Online ISSN: 1468-4446


Print ISSN: 0007-1315


Education and occupational status in 14 countries: The role of educational institutions and labour market coordination
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June 2010


645 Reads


Herman G van de Werfhorst
This article explores the role of national institutional factors--more specifically, the level of skill transparency of the education system and labour market coordination--in accounting for cross-national differences in the relationship between education and occupational status. Consistent with previous research, our findings suggest that skill transparency is the primary moderator. Countries with a highly transparent educational system (i.e., extensive tracking, strong vocational orientation, limited tertiary enrolment) tend to be characterized by a strong relationship between education and occupational status. These findings hold even after controlling for the level of labour market coordination. Nevertheless, we also find that labour market coordination plays an independent role by dampening the effect of education on occupational status. Taken together, these results suggest two quite different policy implications: (1) strengthening the skill transparency of the education system by increasing secondary and tertiary-level differentiation may strengthen the relationship between education and occupation, regardless of the level of coordination, and (2) increasing labour market coordination could lead to improved social inclusion and a reduction in inequalities related to educational attainment.

Smith's Sentiments (1759) and Wright's Passions (1601): The Beginnings of Sociology

July 2005


335 Reads

Treatments of sources of Adam Smith's sociological theory of the self and associated ideas in The Theory of Moral Sentiments typically refer to classical antecedents or the work of his teacher Francis Hutcheson or his contemporary David Hume. During the seventeenth century, however, many books on the passions were published in London that arguably constitute an important but neglected source of Smith's treatment of moral sentiments. These works are largely forgotten today but at the time were widely read. They are not philosophical, partly devotional and predominantly psychological. Although Smith does not refer to these works his argument resembles theirs in many places. The importance of the seventeenth-century books on the passions, apart from their role in the history of psychology, is their bearing on contemporary economic practices. In this paper the connections between Smith and one of these books, Thomas Wright's The Passions of the Minde in Generall, are indicated.

Counting the dead and regulating the living: Early modern statistics and the formation of the sociological imagination (1662-1897)

October 2009


189 Reads

This paper examines the contributions made by early modern statistical literature to the formation of the sociological imagination. Starting in the mid-seventeenth century, the fields of 'political arithmetic' and vital and moral statistics provided a discursive framework within which it became possible to identify and study aggregate dynamics and structures underlying seemingly random and episodic aspects of life (birth, death, divorce, health). Focusing primarily on developments in England, the paper identifies three significant watershed moments in the emergence of the sociological imagination: the discovery of the political and economic dimensions of life; the articulation of socio-statistical patterns underlying various life events and episodes; and the establishment of causal connections between social variables and individual choices. These developments did not amount to or directly result in the creation of the discipline of sociology, yet, they made it possible to make conceptual connections between the personal and the social.

Electoral democracy, revolutionary politics and political violence: The emergence of fascism in Italy, 1920-21

October 2000


72 Reads

This study examines the determination of the Italian Fascists' extra-parliamentary, para-military, violent strategy. What were the effects of the socialists' political strategy, relying on electoral democracy, on the creation and strategy of the Fascist Action Squads? A comparison among Italy's 69 provinces, based on quantitative and qualitative historical evidence reveals a distinct pattern in the Fascists' violence. They attacked mainly provinces where the Socialists enjoyed the greatest electoral support. This pattern was a product of two historical processes: (a) the threat of the Socialist party to the landlords' economic and political hegemony, and (b) the landlords' tradition of militant anti-worker organization which culminated in their alliance with the Fascists. The Fascists' struggle for, and takeover of, political power was not an immanent historical necessity. It was first and foremost an anti-socialist reaction. It was shaped both 'from below', by the political power and radicalism of the PSI and the para-military capacity of the Fascist Squads; and 'from above', by the active support the Fascists received from the landlords and the state. Supported by organized landlords and blessed with the authorities' benevolence, the Squads were able to destroy - physically and politically - the legitimately constituted provincial governments of the Socialists. The alliance with the landlords determined the Squads' almost exclusive attacks on Socialist provincial strongholds that constituted the greatest threat to the landlords' interests, while provinces dominated by the ruling Liberal party were excluded from the Squads' path of 'punitive expeditions'.

Did British Society Change Character in the 1920s or the 1980s

October 1997


15 Reads

This is a response to Runciman's reply to my critique of his 1993 article. I argue that although the First World War brought about many changes in British society, it did not initiate a new stage in its development, for these changes were largely an acceleration of existing tendencies. Runciman's argument that the similarities between the 1930s and the 1980s show that British capitalism was essentially the same in both periods does not allow for the different directions in which British society was moving in the 1930s and in the 1980s. His treatment of the 1980s changes as another phase in the political cycle fails to grasp what was new about the 1980s or locate these changes in their wider economic and global context.

Modernization, globalization and the welfare state: a comparative analysis of old and new convergence of social insurance since 1930

October 2001


71 Reads

Convergence of policies and institutions across countries has been a recurrent theme within social sciences. ‘Old’ and ‘new’ convergence hypotheses have been associated with changing concepts and catchwords, such as modernization, logic of industrialism, post‐industrialism, post‐Fordism and globalization, but share some underlying theoretical perspectives. The purpose of this paper is to analyse tendencies towards convergence of social insurance systems in 18 OECD countries between 1930 and 1990, a period which has seen our sample of countries develop from predominantly agricultural societies to industrial or post‐industrial market democracies. Data from the Social Citizenship Indicator Program (SCIP) are used to examine the development of institutional variables within the various national social insurance systems. Sub‐samples of larger and smaller countries are examined separately, in order to test the open‐economy hypothesis that smaller countries, being more exposed to international pressures than larger ones, could be expected to show higher degrees of social protection and also more convergence. Hypotheses on differentiated institutional barriers against pressures from the processes of transnationalization of the economy, as well as possible convergence effects of the supra‐national policy making within the European Union, are dis‐cussed in the last section.

Class voting, social change, and the left in Australia, 1943-96

January 2000


148 Reads

The relationship between class and voting choices has been the subject of controversy in recent years, especially in connection with the apparent decline of the traditional left. This paper examines class voting in Australia, focusing on three major issues: (1) changes in the overall strength of class voting (2) realignment, or changes in the relative political positions of the classes (3) the connection between the strength of class voting and support for Labor. It finds that (1) there is a decline in 'general' class voting (2) much of this decline involves a realignment of certain middle class groups, but there is no support for the popular idea that class alignments have become more complex (3) there is no connection between the strength of class voting and Labor performance. Our results cast doubt on accounts that regard the electoral difficulties of left parties as a symptom of the decline of class.

FIGURE I: Transfers and trainees from Ireland 1946-1995
The Irish brawn drain: English League clubs and Irish footballers, 1946–19951

October 2000


155 Reads

This paper draws on world systems and resource dependency theories to show how the changing recruitment practices of English League clubs have deepened the brawn drain from Irish football, thereby compounding its underdevelopment. An analysis of the origins, method of recruitment and destinations of Irish players (North and South) who appeared in the English League between 1946 and 1995 shows that English clubs imported large numbers of Irish players throughout the second half of the twentieth century. However, it was the inclusion of Irish teenagers within the youth policies of the largest clubs in the period after the 1970s that marked a break from the traditional pattern of buyer-supplier relations. Instead of continuing to purchase players who had established reputations within the Irish leagues, English clubs began to hire the most promising schoolboys before they joined Irish sides. As this practice spread, it eventually eliminated a valuable source of income: the selling of players to English clubs. Despite this development it would, however, be inappropriate to view the relationship between the Irish and English football industries as a simple zero sum game as Irish clubs benefit from employing highly trained young players who return home after failing to establish careers in England.

Mutualism, resource competition and opposing movements among Turkish organizations in Amsterdam and Berlin, 1965-2000

September 2013


36 Reads

This article seeks to understand environmental effects on associational interdependencies, be they competitive or collaborative, in a polarized organizational population. To do so, it builds on the density-dependent model and the ecology of ideologies. Especially interested in the effect of context on density-dependent processes, I compare different Turkish ideological movements in Amsterdam and Berlin. Amsterdam represents an open and supportive environment for such movements, whereas Berlin constitutes a more closed and hostile one. By analysing the founding and disbanding rates of Turkish immigrant organizations in Amsterdam and Berlin during the period 1965-2000, the article demonstrates how the increasing density of Turkish ideologies has affected interdependencies in two main ways: by heightening competition, particularly between ideologically similar organizations, and by increasing counter activities between opposing movements. It also shows that the influence of context is limited. An open environment does not significantly influence the vitality rates of ideologies or further collaboration among or between them. On the contrary, it seemingly increases competition and fragmentation because more resources and opportunities are available. More signs of collaboration and mutualism are found in Berlin's closed environment.

Parental education, children's performance and the transition to higher secondary education: Trends in primary and secondary effects over five Dutch school cohorts (1965-99)

July 2009


333 Reads

According to Boudon, social background affects educational transitions as a result of differences in children's academic performance (primary effects) and differences in transition probabilities given children's level of academic performance (secondary effects). This study addresses historical changes in both primary and secondary effects on the educational transition from primary school to higher secondary education in The Netherlands. In addition, it considers changes over time in the relative importance of these effects. The study compares five cohorts of Dutch pupils, specifically those enrolling in secondary education in 1965, 1977, 1989, 1993 and 1999, and it employs counterfactual analyses. The main findings are that secondary effects have been stable and primary effects have fluctuated to some extent. As a result, the proportion of the total effect of social background accounted for by primary effects has increased somewhat, from 53 per cent to 58 per cent.

Positivism in sociological research: USA and UK (1966-1990)

December 2003


143 Reads

Positivism has been declared dead in sociological theory circles, yet questions remain as to its viability among researchers. The authors present diagnostic evidence about positivism in sociological practice through a content analysis of journal articles published in the late 1960s and the late 1980s in the sociological journals of the USA and Britain. Using an index based on seven elements of positivism that were characteristic of the 'theory construction' movement of the late 1960s, the authors find evidence of the effects of time and nation on the use of positivism. Disaggregation of the index reveals that most of the observed change is associated with the elements of 'instrumental' positivism, particularly statistics. The results raise questions about the relationship between theory and research and about sociologists' philosophies of science.

Has protest increased since the 1970s? How a survey question can construct a spurious trend: Has protest increased since the 1970s?

November 2014


38 Reads

The literature on political participation asserts that protest has increased over the last four decades, all over the world. This trend is derived from surveys asking questions about participation in various forms of protest, including demonstrations, boycotts, and unofficial strikes. The latter question made sense in the context in which it was formulated, Britain in the early 1970s, and with regard to the original methodological aim, measuring 'protest potential'. The absence of a generic question on strikes, however, distorts our understanding of protest. Two sources of data on Britain in the 1980s and 1990s - a population survey and an event catalogue - comprehensively measure strikes. They show that strikes greatly outnumbered demonstrations and other forms of protest. Another claim in the literature, that protesters are highly educated, no longer holds once strikes are properly counted. Strikes in Britain, as in many countries, have dramatically declined since the 1980s. This decline more than offsets any increase in demonstrations and boycotts, meaning that the total volume of protest has decreased. The episode illustrates how survey questions, when replicated without scrutiny, can misconstrue social trends. © London School of Economics and Political Science 2014.

Social capital and social exclusion in England and Wales (1972-1999)

January 2004


56 Reads

Recent research on social capital has explored trends in membership in voluntary organizations. However, there is currently little robust evidence on such trends in the UK since the 1970s, nor is there any analysis of whether participation bridges social divisions or accentuates them. This paper explores trends in participation in England and Wales since 1972 using data from the Social Mobility Inquiry of 1972 and the British Household Panel Survey of 1992 and 1999. We are concerned with social exclusion mechanisms in social capital generation in Britain over the three decades. Using binomial and multinomial models to 'unpack' the effects of socio-cultural factors on civic participation and on different types of associational membership, we test the thesis of across-the-board decline in social capital by Putnam (2000) and that of rising levels of middle-class social capital versus consistent low levels of working-class social capital by Hall (1999). The results show significant socio-cultural-gender differences, a relative stability of middle-class participation, and a rapid decline in the working-class access to social capital. We challenge the established accounts of both theses.

Class structure in a deeply divided society: Class and ethnic inequality in Israel, 1974-1991

October 2001


90 Reads

Despite the fact that in many societies ethnicity plays an important role in stratification processes, a common view held by students of stratification argues that the role of ascriptive criteria in stratification processes is diminishing, and that the main axis of the modern stratification system is rooted in the division of labour in the marketplace. Despite this, most Israeli sociologists have taken the ethnic and national cleavages to be the main axes of stratification in Israel. This paper utilizes the 1974 and 1991 mobility surveys in Israel to examine changes over time in the association between ethnicity/nationality (i.e., Ashkenazi-Jews, Sephardi-Jews and Israeli-Arabs) and class position in the Israeli stratification structure. It also examines the extent to which inequality of opportunity within the Israeli class structure is affected by ethnicity/nationality. Here it is found that the ethnic/national cleavage in Israel appears to have played a less important role over time in the allocation of Israeli men to class positions. It is shown that class crystallization processes that result from the differentiation of employment contracts in the marketplace produce a relatively common level of inequality of opportunity in Israel, across sub-populations and over time. Any difference in the level of inequality of opportunity between the various sub-populations would appear to result, in part, from different historical process of, and government policy towards, the three sub-populations.

The Power and Limits of Ethnonationalism: Palestinians and Eastern Jews in Israel, 1974–1991

October 2000


105 Reads

The relative standings of four ethnic groups - Muslim Palestinians, Christian Palestinians, Asian-African Jews, European Jews -were compared, using mobility data from 1974 and 1991. The findings show that despite the lack of government support and the prevalence of inexorable discrimination against Israeli Palestinians, they have narrowed the gap with Asian-African Jews in both education and occupational prestige. This finding demonstrates that ideological and political hegemony is not always effective in improving the socio-economic standing of preferred minorities (Asian-African Jews), and that social and economic structures may counterbalance the anti-Palestinian nationalist ideology. The analysis suggests that residential and educational segregation of Palestinians protects them from direct competition with European Jews, whereas Asian-African Jews have to compete with this dominant group in schools, as well as in the labour market.

The changing practice of eating: Evidence from UK time diaries, 1975 and 20001

April 2007


73 Reads

This paper examines some central themes about change in consumption behaviour through an empirical investigation of the practice of eating. It analyses patterns of food consumption in the UK using time diary data from 1975 and 2000. The practice of eating is decomposed into four component activities which are used to explore systematically the inter-relationships between social processes - such as commodification and temporal fragmentation - and ways of providing and consuming food. It charts the expansion of eating out, the degree to which it substitutes for other eating activities, and the implications of its development for social relations and the temporal organization of daily life. Analysis reveals that food consumption continues to be differentiated along established lines of social division, although the content of those divisions has changed and varies across components of the practice. Increasing commodification of the food chain is documented, but without appearing to have a corrosive impact on household organization or social relationships. While tendencies indicative of temporal fragmentation are revealed, counter-tendencies exist which suggest that the practice of eating is resilient to many forms of external pressure. Finally, the application of a practice-based analytical approach permits critical evaluation of theories of social transformation.

FIGURE I: Relative educational positions of Dutch spouses: froportions h and wives with a highereducation than theirspousefrom 1959to Note: Proportions are based on a Spoint categorization of education; figure pertain married couples (source: CBS).
FIGURE IV: Average rates of e Note: Dutch figures pertain to co to all white couples (source: USA
Married Women's Economic Dependency in the Netherlands 1979-1991

April 1998


98 Reads

The present paper offers a replication of an analysis by Sørensen and McLanahan (1987) of 1940-1980 USA data on trends in married women's economic dependency, this time using Dutch income data for 1979-1991. The results show that in the Netherlands, as opposed to the USA, a vast majority of the wives are still completely or strongly dependent on their husband's income. Yet, also Dutch wives' economic dependency is decreasing at a significant rate. Despite clear life course differences that yet seem to persist, we observe declining levels of dependency within each age group. This declining trend seems to reflect mostly changes in married women's employment status over time. An implication of the reported trend, however, is that it becomes increasingly important to study the influence of the social position of both partners.

Towards intensive parenting? Changes in the composition and determinants of mothers' and fathers' time with children 1992-2006

March 2014


220 Reads

Contemporary expectations of good parenting hold that focused, intensive parental attention is essential to children's development. Parental input is viewed as a key determinant in children's social, psychological and educational outcomes, with the early years particularly crucial. However, increased rates of maternal employment mean that more parents are juggling work and family commitments and have less non-work time available to devote to children. Yet studies find that parental childcare time has increased over recent decades. In this paper, we explore the detail of this trend using data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Time Use Survey (TUS), 1992 and 2006. To investigate whether discourses on intensive parenting are reflected in behaviour, we examine a greater range of parent-child activities than has been undertaken to date, looking at trends in active childcare time (disaggregated into talk-based, physical and accompanying care activities); time in childcare as a secondary activity; time spent in the company of children in leisure activities; and time spent in the company of children in total. We also investigate whether the influence of factors known to predict parental time with children (gender, education, employment status and the age of children) have changed over time. We contextualize our analyses within social and economic trends in Australia and find a compositional change in parental time, with more active childcare occurring within less overall time, which suggests more intensive, child-centred parenting. Fathers' parent-child time, particularly in physical care, increased more than mothers' (from a much lower base), and tertiary education no longer predicts significantly higher childcare time.

Globalization and the Policing of Protest: the case of APEC 1997

January 2000


101 Reads

The policing of protest at international events conflicts with the political and policing culture of the host nation. Previous research shows a trend toward softer, more tolerant styles of policing protest within various Western democracies. We present a case study of an exception: the repression of protest at an international event in which one Western democracy hosted rulers of less democratic regimes in a ritual celebration of economic globalization. We explore reasons why, in the face of protests about undemocratic regimes elsewhere, the Canadian government and police were willing to use blatantly undemocratic tactics popularly believed to be more characteristic of those other regimes. Implications are discussed concerning protest policing, economic globalization, the nation-state and social movements.

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