CLASS-STRUCTURE, WAGE DIFFERENCES AND CLASS IDENTIFICATION IN NORWAY -
A COMPARISON OF WRIGHT'S AND GOLDTHORPE'S CLASS MODELS
GOODERHAM, P / RINGDAL, K
TIDSSKRIFT FOR SAMFUNNSFORSKNING
Vol. 36, Nr. 3, 1995, side 289-314
The utility of the concept of social class has recently been challenged. Clark and Lipset (1991) argue for the increasing irrelevance of class for understanding political behaviour and social inequality. in the book Class Society in Decline, Colbjornsen et al. (1987) concluded that Norway in the beginning of the 1980s was clearly not a class society. The analysis was based on Wright's <> class model (1982). In this paper we set out to challenge this conclusion by replicating their analysis with the addition of another neo-weberian class schema based on Erikson and Goldthorpe (1992). We first traced the theoretical background for Wright's Marx-inspired class schema and for Erikson and Goldthorpe's, which has its roots in the works of Weber. Both class schemas were then operationalized in the same data set, the survey <>. These two theoretically quite different class schemas also gave quite different pictures of class structure. The most striking difference was the placement of the majority of women in class-III, routine, non-manual workers in the Erikson and Goldthorpe schema, whereas they were placed in a heavily female working class in Wright's schema. The cross-classfication of the two class schemas also gave indications of validity problems with Wright's schema, which we argue stem from the subjectivity inherent in that class measure. Next, we studied gross and net wage differences by applying the two class schemas and found the differences generated by the Erikson and Goldthorpe class schema to be the largest.The same conclusion was also found for class consciousness. It must also be added that the marginal contribution of class to the explanatory power of the human capital variables was rather small, and the relationship between class location and class consciousness was not very strong. We concluded that the Erikson and Goldthorpe class schema was preferable to Wright's dominance model and that the class differences we found were not insignificant, although far from pervasive enough to satisfy the criteria for the class society of Colbjornsen et al. (1987). We also point to research on social mobility (Ramsøy 1977, Ringdal 1994), which shows that in spite of large structural changes, the mobility regime or the life chances of the individuals still depend very much on their class background.