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The Genesis of the Registrar-General's Social Classification of Occupations

Simon R. S. Szreter
The British Journal of Sociology
Vol. 35, No. 4 (Dec., 1984), pp. 522-546
DOI: 10.2307/590433
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/590433
Page Count: 25
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The Genesis of the Registrar-General's Social Classification of Occupations
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Abstract

Those empirical sociologists in Britain who are concerned with social classification have tended to avoid any detailed evaluation of the long-established and ubiquitous official system. Such a discussion is inhibited by our current state of ignorance regarding its historical origins. An investigation of the exact chronology of its development and elucidation of its author's intentions is, therefore, undertaken. This reveals a complex and protracted genesis, over the first three decades of this century. The final form of the official social classification was determined by the intellectual preoccupations of its progenitor, T. H. C. Stevenson, in seeking a comprehensive alternative explanation to that originally proposed by hereditarian 'sociologists', to account for the phenomenon of fertility decline. Consequently, the now familiar five-graded hierarchy entails certain specific methodological assumptions and theoretical limitations, which, it is suggested, may constitute undesirable conceptual impedimenta for modern sociologists.

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