But what happened to the PCS ?

In their article ” the twilight of The socio-occupational categories “, Revue Française de sciences politiques (2008), Emmanuel Pierru and Alexis Spire wonder why the social category emerged from the end of the 80s, a secondary criterion of explanation in the analysis of the French society.

“Why has it become so difficult to find statistics giving an account of the recent evolutions of the French company, according to the different social groups that compose it ? “

They shed light on the role performative agents of the statistical system of the State in this process, although they acknowledge that ” beyond the importance given to socio-professional categories, the loss of legitimacy from an understanding of the society in terms of social groups finds its origins in a movement that goes beyond the single framework of the statistical system. “

From a quantitative analysis of the evolution of the use of CSP, in two publications of the INSEE (social Data and Insee Première ), which according to them, ” are a revealing priorities and hierarchies into force of the Insee “, the authors of the article establish that the CSP becomes a variable more discreet…

Until the mid-80s, the nomenclature of the CSP represents in social Data the main grid of reading of the French society.

“All the topics of the social life are presented according to a breakdown by socio-professional categories : education, housing, conditions of work, but also the mode of custody of the children, the car and its uses, the possession of dogs and cats. The titles of the chapters of the volume 1981, are eloquent : “Occupations and socio-occupational categories “, ” the daily activities of The French : differences between social categories “. “

The failover occurs to the social Data between 1987 and 1990 : the socio-professional categories lose their visibility. On the side of Insee Première, the similar movement of the reflux is shifted in time, since the PSCS lose their place in hegemonic from the mid-1990s.

This decline also takes place when the analysis in a qualitative manner.

– In social Data, entitled “socio-occupational categories” disappears from 1993 of the titles of chapters and articles in favour of the study of ” social groups “.

From 1996, the phrase “social groups” fades out in its turn in favour of other themes such as poverty, precariousness, social ties, or exclusion. In these studies, the poor and excluded are never defined in terms of social position but because of their low level of income.

To understand the shift in the representation of the social world, it is necessary to analyze the social transformations that have occurred during the same period, the statistics institutions themselves. It is first in the place given to sociology in the training of administrators of Insee, the need to find a part of the explanation of the decline of the nomenclature of PCS.

Other explanatory factors: the renewal of the staff of Insee, the conversion to econometrics with the pulse of new methods (regression models in place of the factor analysis)1, and the specificity of a tool adapted to the French ground little suited to international comparisons and european.

With the decline of the nomemclature of PCS, this is a new vision of the social world which is being promoted.

In the publications of the Insee, the inequality (in the face of the social risks in particular) are less and less tied to a structure of “classes” which are reproduced : they are presented in a way more personal. Maintain a structured representation from “collectives” or groups would be fraught with a process of individualisation of social presented as a fact.

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