A question of perspective: a study of occupational social prestige ranking by type of education required and individuals’ educational experience and political orientation in Switzerland

University of Bern

Lead researcher: Prof. Dr. Stefan Wolter

Duration: 01.11.2016 – 31.10.2018

Using a unique dataset in Switzerland based on a survey of adults’ attitudes towards the educational system and the social status and prestige of vocational and academic occupations, the researchers intent to investigate the variation in the prestige ratings of occupations by type of education required (vocational vs academic). More precisely, the researchers wish to explain differences in the occupational prestige ranking in Switzerland depending on respondents’ own educational experience, age, gender and political ideology. To the researchers’ knowledge, this will be the first analysis in Switzerland that does not simply compare the perceived social status between vocational and academic education but tries in detail to assess the factors influencing the individual perception of the social status or prestige of occupations requiring vocational education versus occupations requiring academic education. In accordance to Zhou’s work (2005), as highlighted by Cattaneo and Wolter (2013; 2016), while most of native adults in Switzerland indicate a preference for vocational education and value the labor market benefits associated with it, vocational training is still perceived as less socially prestigious than academic education. Whether this puzzling observation is due to the status of occupations associated with vocational or academic education or mainly depends on the standing of each type of education remains an open question. In this research, the researchers aim at clarifying this puzzle by examining the social prestige ratings of various occupations in Switzerland depending on the type of education required, and individuals’ own educational experience and political orientation. In order to do so, the researchers apply a rank-ordered logistic or exploded logit model as described in Allison and Christakis (1994) to the researchers’ data, which will be fit by maximum-likelihood estimation in Stata. If the researchers manage to give evidence about the complex interrelations existing between the educational system, political ideology and the perception of the social order, and partially elucidate their causal mechanisms, this should lead to valuable insights for future research and practical guidance for the steering of VPET in Switzerland.

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