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Title: The Human in Human Capital: Essays on the Self and Socio-Economics
Authors: Moullin, Sophie
Advisors: StarrZelizer, PaulViviana EA
Contributors: Sociology Department
Keywords: earnings inequality
human capital theory
mental health
non-cognitive skills
social mobility
Subjects: Sociology
Social psychology
Labor economics
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: In current economic theory and popular culture, it is widely thought that a person’s ”character” is a major basis for status attainment, their ”entrepreneurialism” will affect their earnings, and their ”work on” their selves will determine their mental, and financial, health. This dissertation asks not only critically where these ideas come from, but empirically: are they true?It finds they are - partially - true. The ideas are, in a certain sense, subjectively held - and, on certain scales, objectively true. Children’s concept of their self, as well as teacher’s assessment of their self-control, does affect their occupational attainment. Yet, it does so largely through its association with intelligence tests, and to reproduce class inequality. Employees’ self-mastery and sense of control over their future is associated with higher earnings. Yet, it is so only at the margins within occupations, and not over-time, within individuals. Therapy clients do connect their practice of self to their economic lives and conditions. Yet, this connection itself appears to be a common cause of distress. The focus on the human, social-psychological or non-cognitive, elements of human capital, I argue, does not simply justify but generates inequality and mental ill-health. It is an example of how culture works with meritocratic and market forms of stratification, and to foster not only personal and social order, but disorder. I conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for social theories of the economy, and the human.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Sociology

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