From housework to paid work: The implications of women's labor force experiences on class identity

John F. Zipp, Eric Plutzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective. We evaluate the impact that entering the labor market has on the class identities of married women in the U.S. Methods. We use data from the first two waves of the Student-Parent Socialization Study. A representative sample of U.S. high school seniors were interviewed in 1965. Our sample consists of mothers of these students, who were interviewed in 1965 and again in 1973. The panel design provides a unique opportunity to assess the impact of labor force entry. Results. We show that women who leave the home for blue-collar work treat their own occupations as a source for class identity in a way similar to that of housewives who draw on their husbands' occupations. Conclusions. Our results undercut a key tenet of the "conventional" theory of stratification, as they illustrate how a wife's experience in the paid labor force can change her class identification. Second, since the class positions of both spouses matter, survey researchers would be well advised to consider, at a minimum, both spouses' jobs when using class as an independent variable. Finally and more generally, stratification research would benefit by a new focus on the means of transmission of class imagery from one spouse to another.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)538-554
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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