Is There a Caring Class? Intergenerational Transmission of Care Work

Maria Charles, Corrie Ellis, Paula England

Sociological Science, September 30, 2015
DOI 10.15195/v2.a25

Abstract

Citation

Most research on intergenerational social reproduction has been concerned with upward and downward movements across rank-ordered, “big-class” categories or along continuous gradients of status, income, or skill. An exception is the more nominal conceptualization of the social structure offered in recent research that focuses on qualitative differences in life conditions across occupational “micro classes.” The present analysis broadens this nominal approach by considering social reproduction across an important qualitative dimension that bridges multiple occupations: whether or not one’s work centrally involves care. Based on data from the U.S. General Social Surveys, results provide little evidence that care work is transmitted from parents to children. While women and men whose parents worked in care are more likely to do so themselves, this association is attributable to a general tendency for people to work in the same detailed occupation as their parents. Parents pass along their vertical status positions, and sometimes their specific occupations, but not care work as such. Parent–child similarity in caring outcomes likely reflects transmission of values, skills, knowledge, and network ties that are specific to detailed occupations, rather than attributable to care work broadly defined.
Maria Charles: Department of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara  Email: mcharles@soc.ucsb.edu

Corrie Ellis: Department of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara  Email: corrieellis@umail.ucsb.edu

Paula England: Department of Sociology, New York University  Email: pe22@nyu.edu

Acknowledgements: Equal authors, listed alphabetically. This research was funded by a grant to England and Charles from the Russell Sage Foundation (RSF Project #85-12-05). We thank Alicia Cast, Erin Cech, Bridget Harr, Alexandra Hendley, Sarah Thebaud, and Catherine Weinberger for comments and suggestions, and Guadalupe Soto for research assistance.

  • Citation: Charles, Maria, Corrie Ellis, and Paula England. 2015.“Is There a Caring Class? Intergenerational Transmission of Care Work.” Sociological Science 2: 527-543.
  • Received: July 13, 2015.
  • Accepted: July 17, 2015.
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Kim Weeden
  • DOI: 10.15195/v2.a25

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