During the POLPAN Seminar on Monday, December 12, Dr. Ireneusz Sadowski (Institute of Political Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences) presented a paper titled “Educational and occupational homogeneity of biographically defined social circles”. The paper was prepared by Dr. Sadowski and Professor Bogdan W. Mach.
Social structure of modern society can be studied from different perspectives. One of the benchmark questions revealing the underlying theoretical model concerns whether it is attributes of an individual or rather attributes of his or hers milieu that are treated as mostly indicative in this respect. Each answer bears important theoretical implications, including different meaning of the related notions, like status, mobility and class. The latter, for example, can be defined either in terms of aggregational categories based on status traits, or in terms of more or less consistent network clusters. Boundaries of such concepts can run close, but do not fully overlap. Using data from recently conducted survey study ‘People in nets’ (2016) we elaborate on the second perspective, i.e. network approach to social structure. The analysis focuses on homogeneity of social environment in the life course. In particular we look at biographically defined social circles – from parental home to current friends. While some aspects of this subject have already been studied in Polish society (see Domański, Przybysz 2007, 2016), we seek further insight by exploring comprehensive data on individuals’ milieus. This undertaking – still a ‘work in progress’ – presents particular methodological challenges, yet it allows to formulate some important empirical and theoretical implications for our knowledge on social structure.