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The Institutional Logic of Occupational Prestige Ranking: Reconceptualization and Reanalyses1

Duke University

Departing from the earlier literature that emphasizes power and resources as sources of occupational prestige, the author proposes to explain the phenomenon of occupational prestige ranking from an institutional logic of social recognition that is centered on the principle of legitimacy and appropriateness. The author develops theoretical arguments to explicate the mechanisms that generate the intersubjective evaluation of the “social standings” of occupations and that give deference to occupations that can make legitimate claims on the bases of nature and reason. The proposed theoretical ideas are tested by examining patterns of occupational prestige ranking reported in 1989 GSS data. The findings are consistent with the hypotheses derived from the institutional logic that motivates this study.