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ESeC: the European Union's Socio-economic Classification project

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The European Socio-economic Classification (ESeC) project—one of the European Union’s harmonization initiatives—is based on the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO). Inspired by Goldthorpe’s theoretical framework, which focuses on “employment relations,” ESeC has been shaped most notably by studies undertaken in the United Kingdom. Both professional statisticians and academics have voiced criticisms of the project in recent years. Because of these developments, the future of the French classification of occupations and socio-occupational categories (PCS) needs to be reconsidered in a new light.
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ESeC: the European Union’s Socio-economic Classification project1
! Cécile Brousse* The European Socio-economic Classification (ESeC) project—one of the European Union’s harmonization initiatives—is based on the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO). Inspired by Goldthorpe’s theoretical framework, which focuses on “employment relations,” ESeC has been shaped most notably by studies undertaken in the United Kingdom. Both professional statisticians and academics have voiced criticisms of the project in recent years. Because of these developments, the future of the French classification of occupations and socio-occupational categories (PCS) needs to be reconsidered in a new light.
Sla osicnizaarmo of tion ,s0991-h eht saing inrtid mhe tretsna dht eidssTo undni crue aepoca ninemioatofn Se eia atadaemhe nd tp CeSE ehTctredis  ictjeroybt er dsnipyli 001 he 2 statistics was gaining momentum, interest it has generated in statisticalBritish socio-economic the european commission ordered institutes, two moments seemclassification a series of studies on the feasibility particularly decisive: of developing a european socio- the economic classification. In the -  in the early 1990s, the massive tBheotween 1998 and ed2 0i0ts1 ,ssU.K.  period 1996-2004, researchers and adoption by european countriessocrioo-uegcholyn oremdice sicglnassificatioynst.e mT hoef statisticians, mainly French and pblartciculoaf rlyt hteh oIsnet eorfn tahtieo fnoarl mSert aSnodvairedt  British, competed to offer expertise cloassification of occupations  published as “eSec, projet européen1 originally and proposals. (ISco-88), the building block of thede classification socio-économique,” courrier The first validation studies were eSec prototype7-36no, s)ie n5,12. -.vochener sesquFr (tatsitsi sed coordinated by two British teamsDec. 2008, pp. 2 , http://www.insee.fr/fr/ffc/ - in the late 1990s, the classificationnht rof dednapxe ioitedh isglene xt has been updaet dna dlsgithylocdffs_csc/f521fdp.hT .et e headed by David Rose and eric redesign in the U.K.*InSee, employment Division. . Harrison, and supported by the office for national Statistics of the United Kingdom. In 2006, the teams submitted a project named1: A theoretical framework informed by the work of John H. GoldthorpeBox eSec (european Socio-economicGoldthorpe’s class schema explains social behavior by people’s labor-mark t classification) to the statisticale institutes. The project is currentlys the type of reehd tereimantni r eiplemeroys.italhsnot piht osas su ;tstat ,seeyolpme sdrgarey llcaficipe being examined by eurostat andAmong employees, the relationship ranges from subordination strictly defined the institutes. It may be designatedin the labor contract to far more flexible, informal relationships that offer a large for use in the common core of eUmeasure of autonomy to the employee. household surveys.The opposition between the two ideal types illustrates this concept of “employment relations: The French P cS classification - At one end, the “labor contract” relationship comprises situations where job (occupations and socio-occupationalcontent, working conditions, and pay are totally specified in the contract signed categories) is based on categoriesemployer—a contract subject to strict control.between the employee and the defined in collective agreementsthe “service relationship” describes situations where the- At the other end, between employers and employeesemployee enjoys wide autonomy in performing his or her job; the employee in industries and on government-achieves this autonomy by engaging in high-level supervisory tasks or possessing service status categories. Bytechnical skills that make him or her a specialist. contrast, eSec relies on a theoretical the two, a continuum of “mixed” statuses, combining aspects of- Between “labor contracts” and “service relationships.” framework that has been championed under the name of “Goldthorpe classThe differences between service relationships and labor contracts center on the schema.” It is a variant of the eGPemployee’s autonomy but also career prospects and the level and method of classification, named after the initialsndeed the relatieha anylis ssii ntcepiere ec tofnepmitas .no ehTne cin o theaseoct pihsno tah of its inventors: Robert erikson,, eme ohtre :lpyoeme ths  teeoypldnibi  nht enortca;t labor cd by thecsedebirohw  yllhinsisp el rioatrm et-regnol a stsiexe erth, ndcose John H. Goldthorpe, and Luciennerelationship based on mutual dependence. Portocarero (Box 1).
courrier des statistiques, english series no. 15, 2009
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