Socio-economic classification models and contextual difference: The 'European Socio-economic Classes" (ESeC) from a South European angle
The paper provides a critical overview of a new socio-economic classification model, the 'European Socio-economic Classes' (ESeC), which aspires to become the classification standard for the European Union (EU). After a brief presentation of its basic features and theoretical foundation, the paper focuses on the compatibility of this model with the South European context. The main issue is that the central classifying principle of the model is the Goldthorpian employment relation, while a substantial part of the active population in Southern Europe is outside the scope of this principle, either because they have no employee status or because they are operating within small firms where internal hierarchies are very limited. The conclusion discusses the dilemma between the adoption Of a relatively inappropriate classification standard and the prolongation of the current lack of such a standard for the EU.