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The Changing Social Characteristics of Skilled Manual Work: The Longue Durée in GB and the USA Professor Roger Penn Lancaster University September 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "The Changing Social Characteristics of Skilled Manual Work: The Longue Durée in GB and the USA Professor Roger Penn Lancaster University September 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Changing Social Characteristics of Skilled Manual Work: The Longue Durée in GB and the USA Professor Roger Penn Lancaster University September 2010

2 The Nature of the Presentation An examination of the changing social characteristics of skilled manual work in Britain and the USA The primary focus will be on gender and ethnicity Census data form the cornerstone of the analysis The scope will be the longue durée

3 Previous Research Skilled manual workers have been a major component of the stratification systems in the advanced societies of Europe and North America There has been a longstanding debate about the overall trajectory of skilled work in the post-1945 period

4 The Sociological Debate about Skilled Work The pessimistic view ~ Marxist theory of deskilling: skilled work is disappearing The optimistic view ~ Human Capital/ Post-Industrialism theories: skilled work is increasing The compensatory theory of skill ~ developed at Lancaster: some skilled work is disappearing and some is increasing

5 The New Theory of an Hour Glass Economy

6 Earlier Formulations

7 The Hour Glass Economy/Society I This theory argues that a new structure of jobs is emerging This is captured by the metaphor of the hour glass [egg-timer] Jobs are expanding at the top of the occupational hierarchy and at the bottom simultaneously Intermediate occupations are disappearing

8 The Hour Glass Economy/Society II This model is particularly popular amongst researchers in the field of international migration in the USA They see some groups of international migrants [eg Latinos] locked into the lower end of the occupational hierarchy The traditional route for social advancement in the USA is seen as unavailable as a result of the disappearance of opportunities within intermediate occupational strata

9 The Hour Glass Economy/Society III What are intermediate occupational groups? They refer to jobs which are neither professional/managerial nor nonskilled They include skilled manual work ~ these are entered either via an apprenticeship or through a lengthy internal career ladder They also include technicians, semi-professions like nursing and supervisory occupations Have they declined in the contemporary era?

10 Figure 1: Occupational Structure of Jobs in the USA, Source: US Censuses of Population 1980, 1990 and 2000

11 Figure 2: Occupational Structure of Jobs in the USA in 3 Groupings, Source: US Censuses of Population 1980, 1990 and 2000

12 The Hour Glass Economy/Society IV It is clear that intermediate occupations remain a central component of the American occupational structure It is also apparent that skilled manual workers also remain an important element within this occupational structure [changing definitions of categories make precise delineation in this area difficult]

13 Skilled Manual Workers I What have been the social characteristics of skilled manual workers historically? They have been overwhelmingly male and White since the onset of industrialization in the nineteenth century This began to change in the USA after the introduction of affirmative action in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s No parallel change took place in Britain between 1951 and 1991

14 Skilled Manual Workers II In this presentation we will explore how these parameters have changed during the 1990s by the use of Census data from the USA [2000] and GB [2001]

15 Skilled Manual Workers III The two key questions addressed are: 1.Has the trend in the USA towards greater female and non-White participation in skilled manual work continued during the 1990s? 2.Has the pattern of gender and ethnic exclusivity changed in Britain during the same period? The answers to these two questions are situated within longitudinal cross-sectional Census data

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17 Skilled Manual Workers & Gender in the USA [ ] I The increase in the proportion of female skilled construction workers in the USA has continued during the 1990s in three of the four skilled occupational groups The proportion of female skilled construction workers nonetheless remains low

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19 Skilled Manual Workers & Gender in the USA [ ] II There has been an increase in the proportion of female skilled metalworkers during the 1990s in three of the four skilled trades The proportion of female skilled metalworkers workers remains low but is higher than for construction trades

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22 Skilled Manual Workers & Gender in the USA [ ] III The pattern amongst these other six skilled trades is more complex Typesetters/compositors have been significantly feminized over the period ~ although the trend reversed between 1990 and 2000 Auto mechanics and mining machine operators remained overwhelmingly male Aircraft mechanics are proportionately more female than auto mechanics ~ this is probably due to the impact of the US military The proportion of female Telephone Installers and Telephone Line Installers both significantly increased between 1970 and 2000 but the trend reversed during the 1990s ~ the former trend was mainly the result of affirmative action suits during the 1970s

23 Skilled Manual Workers & Gender in the USA [ ]: Summary of Changes TABLE HERE

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25 Skilled Manual Workers & Ethnicity in the USA [ ] I The proportion of skilled construction workers from Black and Latino backgrounds was much higher than the proportion of females in these occupations The proportion of Latino skilled construction workers had increased rapidly, particularly during the 1990s The proportion of Black skilled construction workers had not increased markedly: indeed in two instances it had fallen between 1970 and 2000

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27 Skilled Manual Workers & Ethnicity in the USA [ ] II The same pattern was evident amongst skilled metalworkers The proportion of Latino skilled metalworking workers had increased rapidly This was particularly the case during the 1990s for welders/cutters and sheetmetal workers The proportion of Black skilled metalworkers had not increased in most instances: indeed in three of the skilled metalworking trades it had fallen between 1970 and 2000

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29 Skilled Manual Workers & Ethnicity in the USA [ ] III A similar pattern was evident amongst the other six skilled trades examined In all cases the proportion of Latinos increased over the period between 1970 and 2000 and in most cases [5] it accelerated during the 1990s The proportion of Blacks increased during the period between 1970 and 2000 in five of the skilled trades But in two cases [aircraft mechanics & mining machine operators] it fell during the 1990s

30 Skilled Manual Workers & Ethnicity in the USA [ ]: Summary of Changes

31 Skilled Manual Workers & Ethnicity in the USA [ ] IV Overall it is clear that skilled manual workers remained predominantly White and overwhelmingly male during the period between 1970 and 2000 Affirmative action in the USA has had a greater impact upon ethnic exclusivity than on gender exclusion There is strong evidence that skilled manual work offers considerable opportunities for Latinos in the USA ~ many of whom are international migrants or the children of international migrants It offered less opportunities for Latinas

32 Skilled Manual Workers & Ethnicity in the USA [ ] V Nonetheless, the proportion of Latino skilled workers in 2000 only exceeded their percentage in the overall population [12.5%]* in four cases ~ carpenters, painters,welders/cutters and auto mechanics The proportion of Black skilled workers never exceeded their overall percentage in the overall population in 2000 [12.3%]

33 Gender and Skilled Work in GB,

34 Gender & Skilled Work in GB, Most skilled manual workers have been male throughout the post-war period in Britain The proportion of carpenters/joiners, toolmakers and motor mechanics who were female has risen slightly between 1951 and 2001 but remains less than 2% in all three cases The proportion of female sheetmetal workers fell significantly during the period ~ the 1951 figure was a residue from World War II when women were allowed entry into this previously male occupation The proportion of female painters/decorators, welders and motor mechanics fell during the 1990s

35 Skilled Workers x Ethnicity: 1991 GB Census [Two Measures] WhiteBlackSouth Asian Chinese Total Social Class: Skilled Manual Socio-Econ Group: Skilled Manual Source:1991 Census Ethnic Group and Country of Birth Table 16

36 Ethnicity and Skilled Work in GB [1991]: I In 1991 almost all skilled manual workers in GB were White Skilled work was disproportionately White ~ Blacks were not under- represented but South Asians were

37 Ethnicity x Skilled Groupings: 1991 GB Census [%] Black Caribbean South Asian Total Construction Metalworking Electrical/ Electronic Welding/ Metal forming Vehicle Printing Source: 1991 Census of Great Britain Table DGM2 Ethnic Group by Occupation Minor Groups and Sex [10% Sample]

38 Ethnicity and Skilled Work in GB [1991]: II Afro-Caribbeans are somewhat under- represented in construction and metalworking trades but over- represented in electrical/electronic, welding/metal forming and vehicle trades South Asians are under-represented in all trades but this varied across the spectrum of skilled work

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40 Ethnicity and Skilled Work in GB [2001]: I Blacks were under-represented* in most trades [apart from telephone engineers]

41 Ethnicity and Skilled Work in GB [2001]: II South Asians* were also under- represented in almost all areas of skilled manual work The exceptions was once more as telephone engineers This under-representation amongst South Asians was most marked in mining and painting & decorating

42 Overall Conclusions I Skilled manual workers remain an important element in the stratification systems of the USA and GB The hour glass economy is a myth Skilled work remains overwhelmingly male and predominantly White in the USA and GB

43 Overall Conclusions II The trend towards greater female and non-White participation in skilled manual work in the USA has continued in some cases during the 1990s but not in others Around half the skilled trades had become less female during the 1990s The proportion of Latinos in skilled work had accelerated during the 1990s but the proportion of Black skilled workers had fallen in xxx cases

44 Overall Conclusions III There was a marked asymmetry between Latinos and Blacks These results indicate that skilled work continued to offer increasing opportunities for Latinos in the US labour market ~ many of whom are international migrants or their children

45 Overall Conclusions IV The picture in Britain was one of powerful structural inertia ~ skilled work remained overwhelmingly male and predominantly White South Asians were markedly more under- represented in skilled work than Blacks ~ a situation of marked ethnic asymmetry


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