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European socio-economic classification: a new instrument for class analysis


In the modern class analysis, two trends can be observed: the implementation of research projects based on the alternative class schemes and at the same time on a tendency to use the standard of social class measurement. To promote the second trend, the European Statistical Agency in 2010 proposed a new instrument for determining the social class in the comparative statistical and sociological studies – the European Socio-economic Classification (ESeC).

This article describes the history of the classification creation and its conceptual and operational basis. It describes class categories and their grouping options; compares the results of the class positions distribution in Ukraine, in a number of Eastern and Western European countries based on the European Social Survey (ESS) of 2004–2012. Thus, the conceptual basis of this classification is the class scheme of J. Goldthorpe, which differentiates class positions in two ways: according to the relations of buying and selling labor, and according to the nature of contractual relations of employees. ESeC includes 10 classes, which for certain research purposes can be aggregated ordisaggregated in different ways. Its design is available both in international projects (in particular, ESS and ISSP) and national (for example, in the monitoring and omnibus of the Institute of Sociology of NASU).

The comparative data of the ESS project indicates the proximity of the class structures profiles of Ukraine, Russia and Eastern European countries, which are defined in accordance with ESeC. At the same time, the principal differences between the post-socialist countries and the economically developed Western European countries are evident: mainly in the smaller share of the middle class positions (the salariat and the intermediate class) and, at the same time, in a higher share of the working class, especially the industrial one. The similarity of the gender profiles of the ESeC-classes of the post-socialist countries under comparison is also noted.

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