Class schemes, contemporary as well as historical, always involve something of a mystery. While this book does not claim to have solved that mystery completely, it does shed significant light on it.

For the sake of comparability, it is advisable not to develop new class schemes but to use old ones. Yet presenting a new class scheme - HISCLASS - is exactly what this book does. Unlike existing historical schemes, HISCLASS is international, created for the purpose of making comparisons across different periods, countries and languages. Furthermore, it is linked to an international standard classification scheme for occupations - HISCO. The chapters in the book show how historical occupational titles classified in HISCO can form the building blocks of a social class scheme for past populations. The dimensions underlying classes are discussed. How, for instance, can manual work be distinguished from non-manual work? Skilled from non-skilled? And what did ‘supervision' really mean? A rich source of detailed occupational information is used to measure those dimensions. The result is an instrument that can be used to systematically compare social class positions, distilled from a dazzling variety of occupational titles, around the world and over a range of periods.


A short note on HISCLASS
Recently a social class scheme (HISCLASS) based on HISCO has been made by Marco H.D. van Leeuwen and Ineke Maas. You can use the full scheme, with 12 social classes, or the condensed version with 7 classes as e.g. in the 2005 supplement on social homogamy of the International Review of Social History. This document provides some background information on the HISCLASS scheme.

Recode job unspecified workers
For unspecified workers (HISCO 99900 and 99920), it is unclear whether they should be classified as farm workers or unskilled workers, see part three of the recode job. If unspecified workers are common in your data, you may use our procedure to classify these workers using information on the occupational distribution in their place of residence.

SPSS recode job HISCO into HISCLASS
All hiscodes except two can be recoded automatically in HISCLASS, using an spss recode job. With the release of their new book HISCLASS, authors Marco van Leeuwen and Ineke Maas provide a new HISCO to HISCLASS file: hisco_hisclass12_book@_numerical. We recommend you use this file but leave the older file online for verification of earlier research results.

hisco_hisclass12_book@_numerical.inc [updated Aug 26, 2013]