Pathways to power: Racial differences in the determinants of job authority

George Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


This study uses data from the 1985 wave of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to assess predictions from the particularistic mobility thesis concerning how African-American and white males reach different hierarchical levels of job authority. Relative to whites, African Americans move into different hierarchical levels of the authority structure by a narrow and circumscribed route. For African Americans, the acquisition of significant human capital credentials and experience at a similar level in the occupational structure in next-to-last job with the same employer are prerequisites to being promoted into present positions of job authority. However, findings from separate analyses by employment sector suggest there is substantially greater similarity in the determinants of job authority in the public than the private sector. I discuss the implications of these findings for explaining racial differences in paths to positions of job authority.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-52
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Problems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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