Class Structure, Structural Heterogeneity and Living Conditions in Latin America

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 15:00
Location: Hörsaal 11 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Patricio SOLIS, El Colegio de Mexico, Mexico
Eduardo CHAVEZ MOLINA, UBA - Universidad Nacional de Mar de Plata, Argentina
Daniel COBOS, El Colegio de México, Mexico
International comparative studies of stratification and class mobility are based on class schemes from industrialized countries, i.e. Erikson and Goldthorpe’s CASMIN scheme. Although the adoption of such schemes is important for comparative purposes, they may not be well suited to reflect the reality of societies with an asymmetric dynamics of job creation and development, where “modern”, productive, and skilled jobs coexist with a traditional sector of the labor market, characterized by low productivity and income levels. Moreover, the relevance of class schemes is also challenged by precarization, which might be eroding the traditional hierarchies between skilled and unskilled salaried laborers and replacing them by the emergence of a “precariat” class of unprotected workers.

 Latin American labor markets have been historically characterized as structurally heterogeneous, and precarization processes have added to diversity in labor relations. In this context: 1) To what extent the conventional CASMIN class scheme is able to capture the specificity of labor relations and conditions in Latin America? 2) Which modifications are necessary in order to adapt this scheme to Latin American labor relations? 3) What is the landscape of national class structures that emerges after these modifications? 4) How is this class structure linked to inequality in labor conditions and exposure to precarization?

To advance on these questions we adopt an empirical, structural-based approach. Using national household survey data for a number of Latin American countries, we propose an adaptation of the CASMIN scheme, which differentiates between salaried workers in large and small productive units and sets apart a class of unskilled self-employed workers. Then we contrast class structures among countries and link class membership to labor conditions. Results suggest that class remains an important category, but some adaptations to traditional class schemes are necessary to capture inequalities in job conditions and exposure to precarization.