Forward and backward, horizontal and vertical: Transformation of occupational credentialing in the schooled society

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Underdeveloped theory about educational credentialing flies in the face of the immense practice of educational degree attainment by ever increasing proportions of each new generation, and the ensuing pervasive belief in the power of degrees to both allocate individuals in the labor market and to serve as job requirements throughout the occupational structure. Considering educational credentialing at the center of the educational revolution in postindustrial society, a new theoretical argument is developed from the premise that education as an institution provides the logic by which educational credentialing becomes evermore legitimate, more so than from forces outside the institution itself such as the economy and labor market demand. In support of the proposed theory of credentialing, multiple sets of new findings about education, occupations, and work show that the common negative notion of run-away educational credentialism does not fit empirical trends. Second, as a function of widely held beliefs about education in postindustrial society, four institutional processes by which educational credentialing has deeply integrated into the occupational structure are described and illustrated with empirical observations and analyses. Lastly, consequences of the rapid and robust educational transformation of occupational credentialing for future sociological inquiry into social stratification and mobility are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-29
Number of pages25
JournalResearch in Social Stratification and Mobility
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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