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The opinions expressed on this page are mine alone. Any similarities to the views of my employer are completely coincidental.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

End class warfare: chutzpah on stilts

I'm not going to waste my time on a line by line dissection of everything that is  muddle-headed, deluded or demonstrably false in this. What the author should not be allowed to get away with however is  a paragraph which appears towards the end of the piece:

"One way of making progress would be to give further consideration to how occupational classes are associated with cultural, social and economic processes. Here, it is possible to take advantage of new forms of data to explore congruencies and differences in their perspectives. Nationally representative surveys often do not have developed questions on cultural or social capital. And with sample sizes rarely extending beyond 10,000 people, there are often limits to examining outliers and 'microclasses'."

I know of at least one colleague who as far back as 2014 tried, unsuccessfully, to obtain from the GBCS team a version of their data that contained the four digit occupational SOC codes that would be needed to implement Professor Savage's vision of intellectual reconciliation. The version of the GBCS deposited in the public domain does not contain these codes and therefore cannot help us to bring about the meeting of minds he claims he desires. 

After Social Class in the 21st Century was published I myself contacted one of the authors and asked when the detailed SOC code data would be in the public domain. I pointed out that the GBCS team must have these data since Tables 4.2 & 6.2  are based on them. Towards the end of February 2016 I received the reply:

"...we should have a version to the data archive in the next 6 weeks or so with the SOC 2010 codes (generated by CASCOT from the text-entry field). "

Why it should take six weeks to disseminate something that has already been created (how else could it be used in the book?) is a puzzle  to me, but I extended the benefit of the doubt. What else can one reasonably do? And here we are almost seven months later and is the GBCS data with the detailed occupational SOC codes in the public domain and available from the UK Data Archive? No it is not.

Nature is one of the world's leading science publications even if it is notoriously flaky in what it chooses to publish from the social sciences. If you want to pass yourself off as a scientist though, it is a good idea to at least make an effort to adhere to some of science's most important norms. Like exposing yourself to the risk of being shown to be wrong. That requires allowing others to scrutinize your data.  If you don't do that and there is no obvious good reason why you can't, then you forfeit the right to be taken seriously. Assuming you ever were.

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