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Within-occupation forms of positional labour market advantage in three skilled occupations

Tholen, G. ORCID: 0000-0001-6439-5046 (2022). Within-occupation forms of positional labour market advantage in three skilled occupations. Sociological Research Online, 27(2), pp. 273-291. doi: 10.1177/1360780421999404


In recent decades, many scholars have accentuated the role of occupations in social stratification and class analysis. Within occupations, workers compete to improve their labour positioning over time and in the process, create unequal outcomes. Advancement to better positions or improved wages can be dependent on many individual factors such as tenure, skills, experience and effort. Yet, occupations also allow workers to create relative advantage by closing off opportunities to others or seeking otherwise meaningful distinction. This article aims to explain how the occupational context shapes how those within skilled occupations construct the means of relative labour market advantage. It is based on a wider UK case study of laboratory scientists, software engineers and financial analysts. It shows that within each occupation there are distinct forms of creating advantage depending on the nature of the occupation such as the educational composition of the incumbents, the situ of skill development and the level of educational congestion within the occupation.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: positional competition, educational credentials, social closure, labour market advantage
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

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