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Conceptualizing Occupational Prestige: An Empirical Case Study from Iran

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This paper attempts to present a theoretically justified methodological concept of occupational prestige as one of the common indexes of social stratification. In order to do that, we first critically review Davis and Moor's theory of social stratification and argue that social stratification, defined as “systematically unequal distribution of symbolic and material rewards among social positions”, is conceptually distinct from Marx's conception of social class. Davis and Moor's concept of social stratification has a functional necessity in any complex society, in the sense that no position is expected to remain vacant, and that qualified people are conditioned into positions. The determinants for ranking positions in such a context are the degree of specialty required to perform duties related to positions, or the level of the authority related to each position. Secondly, we claim that the prestige structure of the social positions, which is the stable symbolic dimension of stratification and is correlated closely with its material dimension, is indeed the representative of the whole social stratification and that the structure of occupational prestige is the index of the former. In conclusion, we verify our claims by providing empirical evidence that has resulted from our own research in Iran or that comes from similar research carried out by other scholars across the world.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Communication, University of Tehran, Iran; 2: Department of Sociology, University of Tehran, Iran;, Email:


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