Cyril JAYET, When lines of class division run through families: Comparing mother’s and father’s influence on social destiny, Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, Volume 86, August, 2023


The importance of both parents’ occupation on the social destiny of women and men have often been documented. However, studies have not explained how the mother’s influence differs from that of the father and in particular when both parents have different and unequal social positions. We argue that these differences shed light on distinct factors that underlie social class reproduction: the position of the social class in the economic hierarchy and gender role imitation. To evaluate the relative importance of each of those factors, we compare the father’s and mother’s influence and we examine more particularly families in which the mother has a higher position than the father. We use data from the French Labor Force Survey and a six classes version of the European Socioeconomic Classification. Results show that the position in the economic hierarchy plays the first role to explain social reproduction. Gender role imitation plays a secondary role that can offset the role of economic hierarchy in some particular family configurations. The strength of inheritance of a class from a parent to a child depends therefore on an interplay between the position of the class in the economic hierarchy, the parent gender, and the child gender.