Merit, desert, satisfaction of basic needs, equality of results are the criteria mainly used to distribute resources and opportunities for workers – as wages, pensions, career, qualifications, training, job tenure and other benefits. Other criteria used for this purpose – mostly in defense of entitlements – are seniority, educational credentials and professional skills. These criteria are justified by more or less consistent set of arguments, called legitimation formulas or ideologies according to the context of analysis. In public rhetoric evoked in distributional conflicts it is difficult not to find some reference to these types of authorization of resource distribution. The relationship between seniority and social stratification was so far little explored by sociological research. The criterion of seniority, from the standpoint of a neo-weberian theory of class, is a strategy of exclusion that benefits members of the cohorts of older workers, placed in the system of guarantees. Purpose of the survey AGING, whose first results are presented in this issue of “Quaderni di sociologia”, is to examine the positive and normative believes on the main distributive criteria of a national sample of workers (n = 2502). Workers were interviewed by CATI in spring 2011. This paper describes the construction phases of the survey AGING, from the definition of the main terms of the problem until the construction of a structured questionnaire. The text of the questionnaire is attached.
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