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  Occupation, in sociology, refers to any form of paid employment in which an individual works in a regular way. Work occupies a larger part of people\'s lives than any other activity. In modern society people work in a large variety of occupations, but this is a fairly recent feature and has accompanied industrial development. In traditional cultures the majority of the population are engaged in one activity only: the gathering or production of food. As improvements in agriculture allow some members of society to be relieved from the task of food production, then permanently employed, waged craftsmen may emerge but they are only a minority of the population.

Occupational structure refers to the division of labour within the whole society. Modern societies are characterized by an increasingly specialized division of labour that is single occupations incorporate narrower spheres of work or knowledge. This can be seen in the fragmentation of work in car production, for example, or in the increasing numbers of medical specialities which have emerged as knowledge increases. Variable amounts of status, prestige, and wealth are attached to different occupations. Occupational scales are measures of these characteristics. In modern society occupation is an important determinant of class position. DA

See also alienation; career; embourgeoisement thesis; labour process; profession; social mobility; social stratification; status; work.Further reading J.E. Goldthorpe, , K. Hope, The Social Grading of Occupations; , F. Parkin, Class, Inequality and Political Order.



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