The Conceptual Basis of Occupational Standing

Elvin Hatch

in Respectable Lives

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 1991 | ISBN: 9780520074729
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520911437 | DOI:
The Conceptual Basis of Occupational Standing

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This chapter explores the reasoning that underlies people's judgments when they rank occupations within the local hierarchy. It first compares the occupational system of South Downs with that of the California community. The two criteria that underlie the system in South Downs in addition to wealth are occupational importance and asymmetry. Wealth entails a semiotic system for ordering occupations and individuals in a hierarchy of standing, yet this function is morally obnoxious in local thought. Moreover, the chapter turns to the occupation of landholder, the most prominent in the district. It investigates the conceptual basis for this prominence. All three criteria presented play a role in people's judgments about the standing of occupations in the district. A man's competence on the job and community-mindedness genuinely count in people's estimation of him, and they provide him with avenues of achievement that he may pursue with conviction.

Keywords: occupations; South Downs; California; wealth; occupational importance; occupational asymmetry; landholder

Chapter.  8830 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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