Structural change and men's work lives: transformations in social stratification and occupational mobility in Monterrey, Mexico



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This study is about the occupational lives of men in the context of the major social and economic transformations of Mexican cities during the last three decades. More specifically, the dissertation focuses on the transformations of occupational stratification and job mobility regimes in Monterrey, the third largest city of Mexico and one of the Latin American cities that has adapted successfully to the challenges of economic liberalization and globalization. The dissertation makes a comparative analysis of the occupational stratification regime of Monterrey in 1965 and 2000. Additionally, it explores changes in occupational mobility and the occupational attainment process among successive birth cohorts of Monterrey men. The study takes advantage of a survey on occupational and geographical mobility carried out in Monterrey in 1965, paired with an analogous survey specifically designed to replicate the original study, executed in the year 2000. The study reveals that occupational hierarchies maintain their importance as markers of inequalities in economic and educational assets, as well as in the structuring of values, tastes, preferences, and life-styles. In the last two decades, there has also been a progressive structural upgrading of Monterrey’s labor market, associated with the expansion of services and the consequent increase in white-collar positions. This has lead to the continuation of the structural upward mobility observed before the 1980s, although the reduction in incomes for men in white-collar positions indicates that recent upward occupational mobility may not necessarily have conveyed upward mobility in incomes. Finally, the occupational attainment of men remains closely linked to their parental status and other markers of social origins, thus suggesting that the major economic and social transformations of recent years have not promoted equity of opportunity.