For this discussion, we are going to look at occupational prestige. According to Max Weber’s theory, occupational prestige is an important factor in determining one’s position in the social class hierarchy. Occupational prestige is more than just how much money a person makes from their job (although that can be part of it), it is also about the prestige associated with different occupations, and how one is perceived as a result of it.
As we all know, when meeting a new person, one of the first questions that is customarily asked (after what is their name) is “what do you do?” And this question really means what do you do for work, or what do you do for a living. Why is this such an important thing that we want to know about a person?
Sociologists have been interested in studying occupational prestige for many decades. Let’s examine a chart showing recent findings on The Relative Social Prestige of Selected Occupations in the United States. These results are based on surveys of Americans by a variety of researchers. An interesting feature of these rankings is that they don’t change a lot over the years. For the most part, the same occupations that Americans thought were prestigious in 1980 or 2000, are still high in the rankings in 2018. Nonetheless, new occupations do enter the rankings, and older ones can rise, fall or disappear altogether from year to year based on a variety of factors.
Click here for the chart
For your long post consider the following questions. Note: you must make your own post first, before replying to other students. Number your responses (but don’t include the questions themselves). Please make sure to say more than just a sentence or two for each–be thoughtful and thorough, give details and explain your answers.
Do you think that the prestige rating is related to the salary of an occupation? Are there other factors that make an occupation more or less prestigious?
What is the difference between a “white collar” occupation and a “blue collar” one? Why are “white collar” occupations generally more prestigious than “blue collar” ones? What accounts for the higher ranking of some blue collar occupations over others, and why can some blue collar occupations be even be higher than certain white collar ones?
Are you surprised to see the relative ranking of one or more particular occupations? Is the score higher or lower than you expected? In which instances do you differ in your opinion about where a particular occupation is placed in the ranking?
Does prestige play a role in what occupation you would choose to have? What are the benefits (or lack thereof) that come with the relative prestige of a job?
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