occupational structurethe DIVISION OF LABOUR within the economy, and by extension also society, largely in sectoral and status terms. Sectorally, the division of occupations has been classified into primary, secondary and tertiary sectors, a schema commonly used by sociologists studying INDUSTRIALIZATION and POSTINDUSTRIAL SOCIETY. In status terms the concept centrally informs the study of socioeconomic categories (CLASSES) for, in Parkin's (1971) classic statement, ‘The backbone of the class structure … of modern Western society, is the occupational order’.
Probably the best-known and most-used schema (within the UK) has been developed by GOLDTHORPE et al. (1980), derived from the earlier Hope-Goldthorpe Scales (see OCCUPATIONAL SCALES) for the analysis of SOCIAL MOBILITY. The concept has, historically been blind to the involvement of women in the workforce, tending to focus on the occupations of adult males only (Walby, 1986).