top of page

The Oxford Handbook of Social Stratification (co-edited with Markus Gangl, Lucinda Platt & Herman van de Werfhorst), in progress


Social stratification is one of the core areas within the sociological research endeavour. The field of social stratification unites a vibrant international community of scholars, who constantly seek to advance the scientific understanding of how stratification patterns are evolving over time, how they differ across places, how different social mechanism generate and reproduce inequalities, but also of what the consequences of inequality are for individual action and social outcomes. Edited by Markus Gangl, Lucinda Platt, Javier Polavieja and Herman van de Werfhorst, The Oxford of Handbook of Social Stratification provides an authoritative, state-of-the-art reference publication that sets out the field of social stratification and takes stock of how it has evolved. The Handbook illuminates the theoretical and empirical achievements of a truly vibrant international research community,  highlighting contemporary debates and salient issues to appropriately reflect the research frontiers in the field of social stratification. Upon completion, the Handbook will include over forty-five chapters produced by the leading figures in the field of social stratification, thus providing a hitherto-lacking reference publication for  both active scholars in the area as well as to their students in graduate and advanced undergraduate level courses. 

      "The book is about Spain in the past two decades, but the questions it raises and the answers it gives are of universal relevance. Having now read it (twice in fact), I conclude that not only is this ‘new’ Sociology but it is also great Sociology.”  

Gosta Esping Andersen, Preface to Estables y Precarios.

El mercado de trabajo español muestra un extraordinario grado de segmentación entre los trabajadores con empleo estable y aquellos que se ven atrapados en trayectorias laborales precarias. Esta división entre estables y precarios constituye un fenómeno especialmente relevante desde el punto de vista del análisis sociológico, no sólo por su magnitud sino por las implicaciones teóricas que tiene para la comprensión de los mecanismos de la desigualdad en el capitalismo avanzado. En este libro, prologado por Gösta Esping-Andersen, Javier G. Polavieja realiza un profundo análisis del impacto estratificador de la política de flexibilización laboral ensayada en España a partir de 1984. Con un enfoque multidisciplinar, que recoge aportaciones de los campos de la sociología y la economía, y un análisis empírico exhaustivo, se estudia la génesis y las consecuencias políticas de la alta desigualdad laboral que se observa en España entre trabajadores de productividad equiparable. El palabras de Esping-Andersen, "El estudio de Polavieja es un ejemplo de gran Sociología, porque consigue vincular magistralmente la distribución de oportunidades individuales con la emergencia de una nueva estructura social".

Insiders and Outsiders 





My doctoral research on the stratifying impact of two-tier deregulation in Spain was carried in Nuffield College, Oxford, between 1997 and 2001. This research yielded two monograph publications: The first book is my doctoral dissertation and was published in a limited non-commercial edition by the Institute Juan March of Study and Research in 2001; the second book is a revised and enlarged edition generously prefaced by Gosta Esping-Andersen. This latter book was published in Spanish by the Centre for Sociological Research, CIS, in 2003.

(2003). Estables y Precarios: Desregulación Laboral y Estratificación Social en España. Madrid: Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas [with a preface by Gosta Esping-Andersen]

   Español        Español       English           Español                           Español      

 Table of      Preface (by                                      

  contents    Gosta Esping-Andersen)     Conclusions         A 20m talk on the book  

(2001). Insiders and Outsiders: Structure and Consciousness Effects of Labour Market Deregulation in Spain (1984-1997). Madrid: Instituto Juan March de Estudios e Investigaciones.

In 1984, Spain’s Socialist government introduced temporary contracts aimed at reducing unemployment through greater labour market flexibility. This reform is a paradigmatic example of  two-tier labour market policies which deregulate conditions for some workers, but not for others. The 1984 reform did not alter the high employment security levels of permanent workers inherited from the pre-democratic era. The dissertation defends two interrelated theses. First, that in a regulatory context characterised by high dismissal costs and a bargaining system ill suited for inclusive interest representation, two-tier deregulation is likely to enhance horizontal labour market inequalities, which are defined as persistent patterns of differentiation in the individual labour market opportunities of similar-productivity workers. Two-tier deregulation generates horizontal inequalities because it affects the amount of employment rents generated in employment relationships and the rent-optimisation capacity of workers on different contracts. The evidence presented shows that two-tier deregulation decreased temporary workers’ rents while increasing the employment rents of permanent workers, thus generating horizontal inequalities among otherwise identical workers. An important implication of these findings is that type-of-contract segmentation in Spain has a logic of its own, which cannot be subsumed within the logic of class differentiation. Second, the dissertation argues that individuals’ positions within these new structures of inequality can have attitudinal effects which have political consequences. Attitudinal effects are, however, mediated by individuals’ own ideological maps (acquired through processes of political socialisation). The evidence presented shows that labour market precarity associated with temporary contracts separates workers from trade unions and generates political discontent. Evidence also suggests that, in the 1996 general elections, political discontent among leftwing and ex-Socialist outsiders favoured punishment voting against the incumbent Socialist Party. The Spanish case thus demonstrates how institutional deregulation can have a structuring impact in contemporary institutionally filtered capitalism. 

Table of contents                          Book                       

bottom of page