In Poland, researchers collected an outstanding amount of data on occupational prestige, as compared to other countries. Analyses of data from 1958 through 2008 prove that the essential hierarchy of prestige remained relatively stable in spite of the radical social change that occurred at the end of 1980s and the beginning of 1990s. A substantial decrease in prestige of occupations involving political power constitutes a noted exception to the stability pattern. In order to find an explanation of this finding we formulate, in the first part of the article, a number of alternative hypotheses, among which the main one pertains to the impact of evaluation of institutions on the evaluation of related occupations. In the second part of the article, we investigate the issue of prestige crystallization. It turns out that the interpersonal agreement in evaluating occupational prestige systematically decreases in time. We interpret this result as an indicator of a weakening importance of occupational prestige in social consciousness, which is fended off by other criteria of grading occupational roles. Muddying the norms of prestige is a new find questioning the basic assumptions of the functional theory of social stratification. However, new research in other countries is needed to assess the extent to which the results obtained in Poland could be generalized to the context of processes occurring on the global level.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
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