Routes of success: Influences on the occupational attainment of young British males

Bond, Rod and Saunders, Peter (1999) Routes of success: Influences on the occupational attainment of young British males. British Journal of Sociology, 50 (2). 217 - 249. ISSN 00071315

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Abstract

Using data from the National Child Development Study, the paper develops a complex path model predicting the occupational grade achieved by 4,298 employed British males at age 33. Most British social mobility research has been based in the 'class structurationist' tradition, and the paper begins by comparing this with the 'status attainment' tradition, which is more common in the USA. The class structurationist approach has rarely analysed the factors influencing individual occupational attainment, and those working in this tradition in Britain have often assumed that people from working-class origins fare worse on average than those from the middle class because of factors associated with their class disadvantage rather than any difference in individual characteristics such as ability or ambition. Status attainment research, however, has generally found that individual ability and motivation are the key factors influencing occupational attainment, and that class origins count for comparatively little. Using various measures of class origins, parental support, qualifications, and individual ability and ambition, the paper goes on to develop a linear structural equations model which achieves a good fit to the data. The model demonstrates that individual ability is by far the strongest influence on occupational achievement, that motivation is also important, and that factors like class background and parental support, while significant, are relatively much weaker. The paper concludes that occupational selection in Britain appears to take place largely on meritocratic principles.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: First Author
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: Rod Bond
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:39
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2012 15:55
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/13735
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