A Historical International Social Class Scheme
Social class schemes, contemporary as well as historical, are always somewhat mysterious. While the authors of this book do not claim to have solved that mystery completely, they do shed significant light on it. Unlike previous historical schemes, HISCLASS is international, created for the purpose of making comparisons across different periods, countries, and languages. Furthermore, it is linked to an international standard classification scheme for occupations—HISCO.
The chapters in the book show how historical occupational titles classified in HISCO can form the building blocks of a social class scheme for past populations. The dimensions underlying classes are discussed. How, for instance, can manual work be distinguished from nonmanual work? Skilled from nonskilled? And what did "supervision" really mean? A rich source of detailed occupational information is used to measure those dimensions. The result is an instrument that can be used to systematically compare social class positions, distilled from a dazzling variety of occupational titles, around the world and over a range of periods.