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  • Horizontal mobility entails movement from one social status to another that approximately equivalent in rank.

  • Integrational mobility involves a comparison of the social status of parents and their children at the same point in their respective careers. Integrational mobility entails a comparison of the social status of a person over an extended time period.

    Identifying social classes

    There are three main approaches to identifying social classes: the objective method, the self-placement method, and the reputational method. Although all the approaches overlap in classes, there are appreciable differences in the results afforded by each. Moreover, each method has certain advantages and disadvantages (see Table 1).

  • The objective method. The objective method views social class as a statistical category. The categories are formed not by the members themselves, but by sociologists or statisticians. Most commonly people assigned to social classes on the basis of income, occupation, or education (or some combination of these characteristics). The label \"objective\" can be misleading, for it is not meant to imply that the approach is more \"scientific\" or \"unbiased\" than the others. Rather, it is objective in that numerically measurable criteria are employed for the placement of individuals.

  • The self-placement method. The self-placement method (also known as the subjective method) has people identify the social class to which they think they belong. Class is viewed as a social category, one in which people group themselves with other individuals they perceive as sharing certain attributes in common with them. The class lines may or may not conform to what social scientists think are logical lines of cleavage in the objective sense.

  • The reputational method. In the self-placement method people are asked to rank themselves. In the reputational method they are asked how they classify other individuals. This approach view class as a social group, one in which people share a feeling of oneness and are bound together in relatively stable patterns of interaction. Thus class rests on knowledge of who associates with whom.

    Table 1. Identifying social classes





    A clear-cut method for studying the correlates of social class. It is commonly the simplest and cheapest approach since data can usually be obtained from government sources.

    The method often does not yield divisions that people themselves employ in their daily lives.


    The method can be applied to a large population since survey techniques can be employed for securing the data. A useful method for predicting political behavior since who people think they are influences how they vote.

    The class with which people identify may represent their aspirations rather than their current associations or the appraisals of other people.


    The method provides a valuable tool for investigating social distinctions in small groups and communities. It is specially useful for predicting associational patterns among people.

    The method is difficult to use in large samples where people have little or no knowledge of one another.

    Middles rank according to profession


    Whole amount of respondents

    Middle class of Russia

    Ideal middle class

    1. Industrial workers




    2. Technicians, middle part managers




    3. Directors of public industries and joint-stock companies




    4. Businessmen




    5. Accountant, financier etc.




    6. Humanitarian intelligence




    7. Workers of communal sphere




    8. Trade and supply workers




    Russian middle class: 6% of all respondents

    • self-identification: middle place

    • Financial position: sufficient to live

    • Education: specialized secondary education, incomplete or complete higher education

    Numerical superiority: men and citizens of big towns and Moscow.

    Ideal middle class: 3.4% of all respondents (most close to middle class of advanced countries)

    • Financial position: sufficient amount of money for almost all needs

    • Education: specialized secondary education or higher (50% - specialized secondary education)

    Citizens of big towns (21.1%) and villages (52.7%). Thus 2-3% of villagers are of middle class.


  • Phillips, B. Sociology research methods.

  • Schaffer R. Sociology.

  • Zanden, James, Vander. Sociology.

  • Enciclopedia Britannica (

  • Журнал Социологические исследования. 1999, №7-10