This article discusses the methodology for the definition, classification, and measurement of social positions of the parliamentary political elite. We present some theoretical and methodological strategies for classifying the variable “occupation held prior to political career”, and suggest the use of more than one indicator for this measurement. We argue that a typology of both social and political characteristics of parliament members is the best way to grasp the transformations on the patterns of political recruitment throughout the 20th century. The first model we tested classified Brazilian senators elected between 1918 and 2010 among occupations conventionally used in studies on political elites. The second applied model seeks to change the coding of occupations so as to grasp this group’s sociopolitical transformations over time. We conclude with a new classification suggestion, which results from a typology sensitive to the varying values ascribed to professional occupations throughout history.
Political recruitment; Political class; Professional occupations; Measurement of social positions; Brazilian Senators