Abstract

A large body of literature investigating the link between black percentage in the community and occupational differentiation, has found disparities to be greater in places where blacks are in a higher proportion. The present paper discusses first, theoretical perspectives and methodological techniques employed in past research; second, examines the issue in terms of the relative odds of the races for incumbency in a series of occupational groupings; and third, analyzes the effect of percentage black on race–linked occupational differentiation across 124 major American cities. Using log-linear procedures, blacks, relative to whites, are much more likely to be in unskilled and semiskilled manual occupations, while whites, relative to blacks, are far more likely to be in white-collar and upper-status positions. Moreover, blacks’ denial of access to higher-status positions, their channeling to lower-status work, and their ability to overflow into specific intermediate-status occupations are found to be greatly influenced both by percentage black as well as other community characteristics. The findings are discussed in light of sociological theories suggesting that the issue cannot be understood solely by the competition hypothesis. One must also consider the overflow and queuing explanations.

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