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date: 04 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

There are a number of theoretical positions that inform analyses of skill. One such position is the social construction of skill. When it was first proposed it was driven by feminist concerns about the sex-typing of jobs and women’s exclusion from jobs labelled as skilled. This chapter offers a new social construction of skill. It appreciates that the old social construction of skill has not disappeared but points out that the context within which this construction occurred has changed, with weaker labour unions and the decline in the manufacturing industries. With more service jobs and stronger employers, the chapter argues that in the wealthier countries there have been two shifts: a shift in how skill has been defined and a shift in who has the power to define it. Focusing on gender, race and class, the chapters explains how the social construction of skill has been restructured in three ways. First, more importance is attached to ascription of skill. Second, who is and isn’t deemed to be skilled has changed. Third, the lines between achieved and ascribed skill are increasingly blurred. The chapter finishes by suggesting ways in which the discrimination arising from this new social construction of skill might be addressed.

Keywords: Class, discrimination, ethnicity, gender, race, social construction of skill

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