Chapter 13 - Social Structure & Personality
o Social Structure: Every person occupies a social position (designated location in a social
system) The ordered or persisting relationships among these positions make up the
social structure. Social structure and personality (SSP) research is concerned with the
relationship between macro-social systems or processes & individual feelings, attitudes
& behaviors (McLeod & Lively)/macro to micro focus/ex=structure of labour market,
systems of social stratification (social class, gender), industrialization, etc…
o Why is the social structure stable?: Children start the ‘career race’ with varying levels of
economic resources (depending on their family background), which predisposes them to
varying levels of future success. These successes then influence where their children
start the ‘career race’ and so on. A related explanation focuses on how experiences at
work reproduce social structure
o Position: designated location in a social system
o Influences of the social structure (RSS):
1. Each person occupies one or more positions in the social structure with
influences of a set role of expectations
2. Each of us is woven into several social networks
3. Each of us occupies several positions of differing status
o Social Structure Framework: Individual->dyads->small groups->communities
->organizations& institutions->social system
o Historical ex=Alienation (Marx Capitalist society): the sense that one is uninvolved in the
social world or lacks control over it/a subjective, psychological experience of losing
touch with ones ‘self’ or human nature/alienation from goods produced, process of
production, themselves and from other workers.
o Capitalism: macro social structure->org of work->individual
o Social Networks: the sets of relationships associated with the various positions a person
occupies (co-workers, family and friends).
o Primary Relationship: A tie between one person to another. Personal, emotionally
involving, and of long duration. Effect on one’s behavior and self-image.
o Status: Social ranking of a person’s position (ex: annual income). Is the single most
important influence on a person’s life. It determines access to resources (money and
influence over others). In Canada, occupation is the main determinant of
status/associated with prestige (most prestige job score from 1-100: doctors (100),
psychologists (92), Dental Hygienists (75), Receptionists (38), Hairstylists (29), Nannies
o Upward Mobility: When a person moves from an occupation lower in prestige and
income to one higher in prestige and income o Horatio Alger rags-to-riches: Anyone who is determined and works hard enough can
achieve economic success. If accurate we should see a large # of adults attain a social
status higher than their parents’.
o Castes: Groups whose members are prevented from changing their social status. If
correct, we should find little or no upward mobility.
o Intergenerational status: the extent of change in social status from one generation to
the next/Measured by comparing to that of his/her parents.
o 3 factors that impact intergenerational status (SGE):
1. Socioeconomic status: occupational attainment rests heavily on educational
achievement/Socioeconomic background and grades have an indirect effect on
occupational status and a direct effect on educational attainment. Status and grades
influence occupational attainment through other variables like aspirations have a
direct effect on occupational attainment.
o Education: Asians (50%), Whites (29%), Blacks (18%), Hispanic (13%).
o High school attainment by gender: Men (85.9%), Women (87.1%).
o ‘Work & Personality’ (Kohn 1969; Kohn & Schooler 1983): occupational experiences
shape values & personality ex=responsibility, intellectual flexibility, curiosity, etc…which
then shape future success (promotions). Also values shape parenting practices which
shape childrens values and aspirations which shape educational success and future
o Evidence: Kohn & Schoolers Thesis: occupations involving complex tasks & low levels of
supervision promote self-directedness. Occupations involving high levels of supervision
promote conformity & obedience.
o Findings: Longitudinal survey data: male workers in 1964 & 1974/occupational
conditions=parenting techniques/occupational conditions=values (10 years
later)/middle class occupations=egalitarian parenting/working class
o Parents education->child’s education->achievement->child’s occupation
o Parents occupation->child’s occupation
o The Structure of Individual Values: Theory developed by Schwartz (1992). Has 10
motivational values defined in terms of a central goal. There are relationships among
the values. Older ppl gave higher ratings to tradition and benevolence, and lower ratings
to achievement and hedonism. As education increased, persons gave lower ratings to
tradition, conformity, and power and higher ratings to stimulation, self-direction and
universalism. Values are related to our attitudes toward public policy. Value systems are
influenced by our location and in the social structure. 2 aspects of social position that affect individual values-occupational role and education. The higher ones education, the
greater the value placed on self-direction. As education increases, so does intellectual
flexibility. The greater the complexity of schoolwork, the greater value placed on self-
o Occupation: 3 characteristics that effect values (SRC): 1) closeness of supervision:
worker is under direct surveillance and control of a supervisor. 2) Routinization of work:
the extent to which tasks are repetitive and predictable. 3) Substantive complexity of
work: work with ppl is more complex than work with data/objects. All these 3
characteristics determine the impact of occupational role on values and personality.
Social Structure & Health
o Our social positions shape exposure & vulnerability to health risk factors
o In the U.S, a study of 18,733 deaths in 1986 found that social class was strongly
correlated with mortality (Rogers, 1995). The highest mortality was ppl who were single
& poor. In Canada, Wilkins (1989) found individuals living within the poorest 20% of
neighbourhoods to be more likely to die of just about every disease from which ppl can
die of, than the more well-off. Rates of infant mortality are also negatively related to
o Social class differences in health are in part due to occupational factors. Affects health in
1. Some occupations directly expose workers to health hazards. Coal miners face
hazardous environmental conditions, bartenders are exposed to cigarette
smoke, and construction workers are exposed to asbestos
2. Many occupational roles expose ppl to stressors that indirectly affect ph