Microclass immobility during industrialisation in the USA and Norway



Griffiths D, Lambert P, Zijdeman R, van Leeuwen MHD & Maas I (2019) Microclass immobility during industrialisation in the USA and Norway. Acta Sociologica, 62 (2), pp. 193-210.

The ‘microclass' approach advocated by Grusky, Weeden and colleagues emphasises fine-grained occupational differences and their relevance to social reproduction and social mobility. Using recent developments in historical occupational classifications, we apply a microclass approach to the analysis of intergenerational social mobility using linked census data for Norway and the USA in the late 19th and early 20th century (1850-1910). We describe a procedure that offers an operationalisation of microclass units for these datasets, and show how its application enables us to disentangle different forms of immobility which would not be distinguished in other approaches. Results suggest that microclass immobility is an important part of social reproduction in both Norway and the United States during the era of industrialisation. Both countries reveal a similar balance between ‘big class' and ‘microclass' immobility patterns. In Norway, the relative importance of microclasses in social reproduction regimes, when compared to the role of ‘big class' structures, seems to decline very slightly over the course of industrialisation, but in the USA the relative importance of microclasses seems if anything to increase over the period.

Microclasses; Social reproduction; Social mobility; HISCO; HISCLASS; Historical occupations

Acta Sociologica: Volume 62, Issue 2

FundersUtrecht University
Publication date01/05/2019
Publication date online21/05/2018
Date accepted by journal13/02/2018

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Dr David Griffiths

Dr David Griffiths

Senior Lecturer, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology

Professor Paul Lambert

Professor Paul Lambert

Professor, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology

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