Social closure, micro-class immobility and the intergenerational reproduction of the upper class: a comparative study
The British Journal of Sociology
194 - 214 p.
social closure enhance intergenerational immobility, broader institutional arrangements, stronger micro-class immobility, micro- and meso-class rigidities
This article assesses how processes of social closure enhance intergenerational immobility in the regulated professions and thus promote persistence at the top of the occupational hierarchy. We compare four European countries (GB, Germany, Denmark and Sweden) that differ considerably in their degree of professional regulation and in their broader institutional arrangements. We run log-linear and logistic regression models on a cumulative dataset based on three large-scale surveys with detailed and highly comparable information at the level of unit occupations. Our analyses indicate that children of licensed professionals are far more likely to inherit the occupation of their parents and that this stronger micro-class immobility translates into higher chances of persistence in the upper class. These results support social closure theory and confirm the relevance of a micro-class approach for the explanation of social fluidity and of its cross-national variations. Moreover, we find that, when children of professionals do not reproduce the micro-class of their parents, they still display disproportionate chances of persistence in professional employment. Hence, on the one hand, processes of social closure erect barriers between professions and fuel micro-class immobility at the top. On the other hand, the cultural proximity of different professional groups drives intense intergenerational exchanges between them. Our analyses indicate that these micro- and meso-class rigidities work as complementary routes to immobility at the top.