A Historical International Social Class Scheme

Marco H.D. van Leeuwen (Author), Ineke Maas (Author),

Category: Social Science

Language: English

ISBN: 9789058678577

Publication date: March 14, 2011

€39.50 (including 6% VAT)

Buy Now

Number of pages: 181

Size: 270 x 180 x 20 mm

Stock item: 61818

Standard delivery time for print books:

For Belgium: 5 to 8 working days

For EU: 2 to 3 weeks

For other countries: 4 to 5 weeks


Social class schemes, contemporary as well as historical, always involve something of a mystery. While this book does not claim to have solved that mystery completely, it does shed significant light on it. For the sake of comparability, it is advisable not to develop new class schemes but to use old ones. Yet presenting a new class scheme – HISCLASS – is exactly what this book does. Unlike existing historical schemes, HISCLASS is international, created for the purpose of making comparisons across different periods, countries and languages. Furthermore, it is linked to an international standard classification scheme for occupations – HISCO. The chapters in the book show how historical occupational titles classified in HISCO can form the building blocks of a social class scheme for past populations. The dimensions underlying classes are discussed. How, for instance, can manual work be distinguished from non-manual work? Skilled from non-skilled? And what did ‘supervision’ really mean? A rich source of detailed occupational information is used to measure those dimensions. The result is an instrument that can be used to systematically compare social class positions, distilled from a dazzling variety of occupational titles, around the world and over a range of periods.

This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).

List of tables


1. Occupations, Class and Rank in Past Societies
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Occupations and their classifi cation in HISCO
1.3 Constructing the class scheme
1.4 Dimensions of social class
1.5 Conclusion

2. Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT)
2.1 Introduction
2.2 The nature of DOT
2.3 The content of DOT
2.4 Conclusion

3. From HISCO to DOT
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Linking HISCO to DOT
3.3 Conclusion 4. From DOT to a Social Class Scheme for Past Populations
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Manual and non-manual
4.3 Skill levels
4.4 Supervision
4.5 Economic sector
4.6 From class dimensions to HISCLASS
4.7 The use of the HISCO variables Status and Relation
4.8 Conclusion

5. Validation
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Expert judgement
5.3 Results of the expert validation
5.4 Consequences of the results of the validation for HISCLASS
5.5 Conclusion

6. Conclusion


Appendix 4.1: Exceptions to the general rules with respect to the manual /non-manual distinction
Appendix 4.2: Exceptions to the general rules with respect to skill levels
Appendix 4.3: Exceptions to the general rules with respect to supervision
Appendix 5.1: Instructions for validation by the experts
Appendix 5.2: The two test fi les for the expert validation (first 10 of 299 occupational groups)
Appendix 5.3: Overview of experts’ placement of occupational groups into classes, compared with the placement using DOT
Appendix 5.4: Overview of experts’ scoring of occupational groups on class dimensions
Appendix 5.5: Changes made based on the expert validation
Appendix 5.6: Crosswalk HISCO – HISCLASS

List of tables
Table 2.1: Values of the occupational characteristics Data, People and Things in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT)
Table 2.2: Example of a DOT qualifi cation profile
Table 3.1: An overview of links between HISCO and DOT by type
Table 3.2: An illustration of choosing the most common DOT code within the unit group in order to establish a HISCO-DOT link for a general HISCO group
Table 3.3: An illustration of choosing the most similar DOT code within the unit group in order to establish a HISCO-DOT link for a general HISCO group
Table 3.4: HISCO occupational groups that could not be linked to DOT, and their presence in ISCO68
Table 4.1: Distinguishing between manual and non-manual work using DOT
Table 4.2: HISCO occupational groups not covered by DOT, and their directly assigned class characteristics
Table 4.3: Distinguishing skill levels using DOT
Table 4.4: Distinguishing supervision using DOT
Table 4.5: A cross-classifi cation of the dimensions of class
Table 4.6: The 12 HISCLASS classes and their characteristics
Table 4.7: Categories of the variable Status in HISCO and rules for assigning occupations to classes
Table 4.8: Categories of the variable Relation in HISCO and rules for assigning occupations to classes
Table 5.1: Results of the expert validation of supervision
Table 5.2: Results of the expert validation of manual / non-manual
Table 5.3: Results of the expert validation of primary as opposed to other sectors
Table 5.4: Results of the expert validation of skill
Table 5.5: Results of the expert validation of class
Table 5.6: Cross-classifi cation of DOT-based class and alternatives proposed by a majority of experts

Marco H.D. van Leeuwen

Marco H.D. van Leeuwen is Professor of Historical Sociology at the Department of Sociology/ICS, Utrecht University, and Honorary Research Fellow of the International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam.

Ineke Maas

Ineke Maas is Associate Professor of Sociology at the Department of Sociology/ICS, Utrecht University.

Notwithstanding these observations, HISCLASS is an important tool that will make a significant contribution to historical stratification and mobility research in the fields of social and economic history, historical sociology, and historical demography. The book's documentation of HISCLASS' construction, which permits identification of the scheme's weaknesses and strengths, together with the actual experiences of HISCLASS users, may well lead to the improvement of this research tool in the future.
Peter Tammes, The Netherlands, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, XLIII:3 (Winter 2013)

Related titles