Using the concept of subjective social distance we focus on perceptions of occupational categories. First, the theoretical concept of social distance is introduced as a tool for measuring social stratification. Second, subjective hypothetical interactional distances to 22 occupational stimuli are analyzed with data from the Social Distances 2007 survey. People rate the stimuli hierarchically analogous to occupational prestige and socioeconomic status; however some minor divergence can be detected.
Further we focus on differences among gender and members of self identified social classes. The main part assesses the hypothesis of the existence of subjective social class boundaries. The status-continuum is shared by the whole public, yet we can identify mental categorization patterns of professional groupings which draw an intense boundary between white and blue collar professions. Further, four groupings regarded as subjective social class can be identified: higher professionals, female lower professionals, qualified and semi-qualified manual and non-manual workers, and unqualified manual professions with low prestige.
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