ISA RC52 Interim Meeting: Professions and society. Facing the challenges of marketization, globalization and digitalization, Florence, Italy, 4 - 06 July 2019, pp.1-2
Since Duncan and Blau’s study on the American occupational structure (1968), occupational prestige has been considered as an essential indicator of socio-economic status and stratification among sociologists. Based on the survey data acquired from a quantitative study that we conducted with a sample of 2500 people from rural and urban areas of Turkey, this paper aims to analyze the occupational prestige scale that consists of 126 occupational groups which are adapted from ISCO-08 classification. To correlate the prestige scores with the objective socio-economic conditions, the paper begins by offering a description of how the work and occupational structure have been transformed from 1980 on in the country. In several decades, Turkey witnessed a rapid transition from an agriculture-oriented society to a service oriented one with an insufficient level of industrialization; which paved the way for increase of low-waged employment, income polarization and unbalanced growth of unskilled service jobs. Combined with mass participation in higher education and on-going rural flight to metropolitan districts, the marketization and tertiarization of Turkish society caused an erosion of educational credentials and a contestation of professional status in terms of both income and prestige. Accordingly, the occupational prestige scale that our survey offers represents the effects of current proletarianization and labor diversification on the social prestige of manual and nonmanual jobs comparatively. From physician to dancer, sharp contrasts and distinctions among traditional and emerging professions’ prestige scores are analyzed in relation to educational level, gender and worldview of participants. After all, the social honor attributed to “good” white collar jobs and working life is weakening with the post-industrial transformation in Turkey.