The Social Classification of Women: A Life-Cycle Approach

  • Helen Roberts
Part of the Explorations in Sociology. book series


There has been a considerable body of largely theoretical literature over the last decade concerning the social classification of women. Objections to the current conventional classification range from the ideological — that it is offensive to many that married women should be classified according to the occupation of a husband on whom they may or may not be dependent — to the straightforwardly logical — that to classify a woman in terms of her own occupation until the day she marries, but from then onwards to classify her in terms of the occupation of her husband (whether or not she is in paid work), is inconsistent. There is good evidence (Graham, 1984; Land, 1980) that the resources of the household are not equally shared, which weakens the case that the household is the appropriate unit of stratification (and the occupation of the male ‘head of household’ most useful for this purpose). Among objections to the classification of women using existing scales are the inability of these to distinguish sufficiently finely between women’s occupations, problems concerning the manual/non-manual divide, and the concentration of a very large number of women in a very small number of occupations. Current conventions of classification do not distinguish between fulland part-time workers, and for those women whose labour is in the home and unwaged, there is no classification scheme at all.


Social Class Social Classification Work Position Domestic Labour Domestic Responsibility 
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Copyright information

© British Sociological Association 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen Roberts

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