Class Structure and Class Consciousness Series

Investigator(s): Erik O. Wright, et al.

The Class Structure and Class Consciousness series was designed to provide systematic data for analyzing class structure comparatively and to open up a new terrain of data on social inequality, in particular, the relational dimensions of social inequality. The central objective of the survey was to develop rigorous measures of the relational dimensions of social inequality (i.e., relations of authority, autonomy and property) to complement data on the gradational dimensions of social inequality (i.e., income, education, and occupational status) so as to make it possible to operationalize in a more coherent and systematic manner the concepts of class structure. In order to explore the macroproperties of class structures and their effects in a comparative context, the survey was replicated in a number of countries in addition to the United States. The earliest stages of this comparative project were in 1976-1977. In that year a pilot project was funded by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation to develop the core questionnaire for the comparative project. In 1978, a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant (SES-7812189) was obtained to conduct the United States survey and to begin the coordination of the comparative project as a whole. At the January 1980 meeting in Madison, Wisconsin, the basic outlines of the survey were agreed upon by representatives from Italy, Britain, Sweden and Finland. With some refinements and tightening, this survey was fielded in the United States in 1980, in Sweden in 1980, and in Finland in 1981. The data were made available by 1982. Since the initial surveys, additional grants for national projects were obtained for Canada (survey fielded in 1982), Norway (1982), Great Britain (1983,) New Zealand (1984), West Germany (1985), Denmark (1985), Australia (1986), and Japan (1987). A regional survey in South Australia was fielded in 1981. Also fielded was a survey in Russia, and the Komi Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in the northwest Russian Federation in Europe in 1990-1992. All of these surveys have maintained intact the core U.S. survey, with the partial exceptions of the Finnish and British projects which dropped most of the common attitude questions. The data in the survey can be grouped under seven general headings: class relations, other aspects of social structural location, organizational context, class biography and class experience, the sexual division of labor in the home, social and political attitudes, and political participation.