Scholarly Culture and Occupational Success in 31 Societies

in Comparative Sociology
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Prior research shows that coming from a book-oriented family is a great advantage for children’s education, especially for the “ordinary success” of children from disadvantaged families. Focusing on the next career stage, our multi-level analysis (58,944 respondents in 31 societies) shows that it furthers children’s later occupational career even more than parents’ education or occupation, especially in developing nations where there is a small additional advantage beyond the educational gains. This evidence supports the scholarly culture hypothesis that book-oriented socialization provides a “toolkit” of competencies, skills, and knowledge (Kohn, Spaeth). It is not consistent with elite closure/cultural capital theories that elites use cultural signals to recognize members and hoard advantages by discriminating on the basis of culture (Bourdieu, Goblot).

Scholarly Culture and Occupational Success in 31 Societies

in Comparative Sociology



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  • View in gallery
    Number of books in the home at age 14 and adult occupational status (society means): National differences.
  • View in gallery
    Books and other influences on occupational status: total effects (left panel) and direct effects (right panel). Details in Table 2.
  • View in gallery
    Effect of parents’ home library size on their children’s later occupational status (Hypothesis 1b): Theory (Panel A) and results (Panel B).
  • View in gallery
    Books raise occupational status, especially in poor nations (Panel A). The effect is mostly indirect through education in poor nations and entirely indirect through education in rich nations.
  • View in gallery
    Primary education has little impact on occupational status at the lowest levels, but secondary schooling and university have strong effects in both poor and rich societies.

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