Dissertation Abstracts

Homogeneity of Occupations. Changes in the world of work and in occupations - a view on social differentiation

Author: Tiemann, Michael , tiemann@bibb.de
Department: Institute for Sociology and Social Psychology
University: Cologne, Germany
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Michael Wagner
Year of completion: 2014
Language of dissertation: german

Keywords: occupational change , differentiation , flexibility and technological , occupational contents
Areas of Research: Work , Economy and Society , Professional Groups


This is the first publication to specify the differences and similarities within and between occupations over the course of time. The changes in occupational content between 1979 and 2006 are shown from the perspective of the working population.
The theoretical framework developed in the publication defines occupations with regard to their content and their function, allowing us to examine the extent to which flexibility has increased, to study the influence of technological change and to answer the question of how similar the work of a baker today is to the work of a baker 20 years ago - even in comparison to the work of a mechanic today.

In the theoretical framework structuralistic/functionalistic (Durkheim, Kurtz), and rationalistic theories (Weber, Smith) as well as theories of subject-orientation (Beck, Brater, Daheim) and modernisation (Beck, Giddens) are examined. Together with a study of the most important empirical works on occupations (of the fields of sociology of work and industries (Kern, Schumann), technological change (Bell, Autor), qualifications (Geißler, Baethge, Prediger), competences and occupational families) definitions of the crucial terms (occupations, work, their functions, occupational contents, knowledge, skills, and tasks) are developed.

The data used for the analysis are the BIBB/IAB- BIBB/BAuA- Employment Surveys of 1979, 1986, 1992, 1999 and 2006. More than 118.000 respondents' answers about their core tasks, used and required skills are scrutinised. Holding the occupation constant (i.e. as a 3-digit-code of the German national classification of occupations of 1988) 23 characteristics, which are comparable over time, are used for a principal component analyses, allowing us to see both, how occupations change over time (describing the process of differentiation) and where they are located compared to other occupations at one specific time (describing the division of work at that time).
The wealth of information in the data is further used to explore correlations between occupational change and computerisation (testing the task-biased technological change of occupational contents) and flexilibisation of work (rising shares of female workers, rising shares of part-time workers and more).

With this the development of occupational differentiation as well as its implications for understanding the development of social differentiation is shown and analysed.