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Card-index course

Social stratification and the life course

Stratification sociale et parcours de vie

Responsible Faculty: Faculty of Social and Political Sciences (SSP)

Teacher(s): Daniel Oesch
Lecturer(s): -

Validity: 2010 -> 2014

No timetable defined.


Autumn semester
2 hours per week
28 hours per semester

Teaching language(s): French
Public: Yes
Credits: 0


At the end of this course, students should be capable to:
- apply the main concepts used in the analysis of social stratification
- identify the crucial moments in the construction of inequalities in the life course
- identify how social policy interacts with the life course
- describe the stages leading from class inequalities to political class action
- integrate the reading of english texts into their way of learning


This course examines how inequalities are constructed and reproduced in contemporary European Societies. It is structured in three blocks. A first block compares different models representing social inequality and social stratification. These models, notably class schemas, are then examined empirically in an analysis of electoral sociology: do different classes still vote for different parties?

A second block examines social inequalities under the perspective of the life course. The goal is to identify the crucial moments when life chances diverge among individuals of a given cohort: during early childhood, in secondary schooling or when entering the labour market? In parallel, this block discusses whether post-industrial societies lock people in the same class all along their lives or whether, on the contrary, intra-generational mobility makes individual trajectories more fluid.

A third and last block focuses on the passage from structural inequalities to political action. The goal is to analyze class voting and to examine how different classes are integrated into political institutions such as the welfare state and the trade union movement.


The evaluation consists in a written exam of two hours without documents. It takes place during the exam session in January/February. The exam covers both the material discussed in class and the readings.


Erikson, Robert and Goldthorpe, John H. (1993), The Constant Flux: A Study of Class Mobility in Industrial Societies, chap. 2: "Concepts, Data and Strategies of Enquiry", Oxford: Clarendon Paperbacks, pp. 28-47.

Esping-Andersen, Gøsta (1990), The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism, chap. 3: "The Welfare State as a System of Stratification", Princeton: Princeton University Press, pp. 54-78.

Esping-Andersen, Gøsta (1993) 'Post-Industrial Class Structures: An Analytical Framework', in G. Esping-Andersen (ed.) Changing Classes. Stratification and Mobility in Post-Industrial Societies, London: Sage, pp. 1-31.

Esping-Andersen, Gøsta (2009), The Incomplete Revolution: Adapting to Women's New Roles, chap. 5: "Aging and Equity", Cambridge: Polity Press, pp. 145-166.

Heckman, James (2006), "Skill Formation and the Economics of Investing in Disadvantaged Children", Science 312: 1900-1902.

Canton de Vaud
Swiss University
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