In our society today, it is argued if occupation is the major determinant of both social class and status in industrial societies. Occupation is defined as an individual’s regular work or profession, job or regular activity performed for payment that occupies one’s time. Occupation has been viewed both negatively and positively as the major determinant of both social class and status. Industrial societies are those driven by the use of technology to enable mass production, supporting a large population with a high capacity for division of labour. Status and class are both supported by factors that influence occupation such as race, education, community size, family status, income of workers and measured intelligence.
It is greatly supported that occupation is the major determinant of both social class and status in industrial societies, for example, if an individual is brought up either in a rich or poor family and becomes educated to an extent of achieving a higher national degree such as a P.H.D or a M.D. such an individual is bound to earn a higher status and class in a society. For instance, a neurosurgeon can achieve a higher status and class as they may be earning a higher income as compared to a general doctor at a local clinic situated in a local town. Another example may be that of a lecturer at a university and a teacher at a school, because a lecturer earns a higher salary as compared to a teacher his/her status is higher. Their level of education is also considered as the lecturer is usually more educated than a teacher, thus he/she earns higher prestige in an industrial society.
Family status may also be another factor out of many which influences one’s status or class. Taking for example, if an individual was to be born into a wealthy and influential family, they would have attained an ascribed status which could turn out to be a great advantage in the industrial societies. The individual has a privilege of learning at a well facilitated expensive school and also attaining a high rank as a managing director or even the C.E.O in the family’s company or due to membership influence in another major company. This may result in one earning a higher status and class in the society.
Occupation however, is sometimes not viewed as the major determinant of either social class or status as there are other factors like that of race amongst others. Race has always been a major factor of discrimination and segregation in societies, for example in Zimbabwe, during the liberation struggle black people were considered of being lower class, they occupied the lower class jobs, housings and many other underrated facilities as they were made to work for the white people who were their lords and only means of employment. This kind of unfair treatment brought the social class and status of black people down in the industrial societies, which therefore provides supporting evidence to Karl Marx’s conflict theory. Another example of racial discrimination still evident in most parts of the globe is that of employment opportunities, given a black man and a white man who just graduated from university with equal achievements and applied for a job vacancy at a major company. The white man is usually the first preference to the black man due to beliefs that whites are more superior, this kind of treatment surely lowers the status and class of blacks whilst raising that of the whites.
Community size is another factor influencing one’s status and class. The greater the community size, the greater the prestige it holds. For example, a professional accountant working at a small bank at a growth point like Murombedzi growth point is bound to achieve a lower status and social class as compared to an equally qualified professional accountant working at a big company like Econet or NMB bank in a huge city. In this case it can be reasoned that the social class and status were not determined by occupation but by location and community size.
With the above information, one can conclude that occupation is in fact the major determinant of both social class and status in an industrial society. However, despite the seemingly convincing contributions of occupation in determining the class and status, it must not be left out that there are also some factors other than occupation like community size and race which also determine an individual’s social class and status in industrial societies.