Occupational hierarchy of prestige
Supreme court judge
c) Chartered accountants
2. White collar
a) Successful independent entrepreneur
a) Computer types, software and hardware programming
4. Skilled trades (aristocracy of labour)
b) Tool and dye
5. semi0skilled work: McJobs
a) McJobs (service sector)
b) Sales clerk
c) Manufacturing (assembly)
d) Truck drivers
b) Migrant farm workers (see John Steinbeck’s, Grapes of Wrath – family living in Oklahoma in 1930s,
weather was really hot; draught everywhere, people had to sell their farms, this book is about a family
that had their farm taken away from there, they went to california as migrant farm workers.)
c) Street sweepers
d) Shoe Shiners
Social stratification – about social inequality.
Social complexity argument – jog complexity or occupational complexity. How many distinct occupations do you
find in a society. As societies becomes more modern, occupational complexity increases (we get more
occupations). Some call it a complex division of labour (aka. number of occupations).
Social differentiation – biological term, certain biological organisms are more complex than others. Modern
societies are more complex.
There are 4000 occupational specializations. Some occupations pay more than others, give you more prestige than
other occupations. These relationships are established historically. Over time, certain relationships among
occupations are established. i.e. Historical relationships of occupational inequality. E.g. if postal workers start making more money than teachers, teachers will complain to school boards to get paid more, so they can re-
establish the historical relationship.
Those who work in a given occupation will use what’s called the legitimacy argument – “I make more money than
you do, because it’s justified”, more training, more education, more training.
• Some individuals earn unusually high salaries (and become famous) because they have natural talents at
activities that are widely admired, in part because the activities are fulfilling recreations that many have
• Although talent and effort matter, rewards follow only when these are refined into particular skills.
• But who gets to develop which skills depends on access to learning environments.
• Many skills are relative: People can only develop to the level of those to whom they are exposed.
• When individuals begin to participate in formal education, what they encounter varies in compatibility
with earlier experience, mostly gained with family members.
• For the vast majority of income earners, it is their ability to communicate persuasively, think critically,
reason logically, and work creatively that affects the occupations they hold and the incomes they receive.
Intelligence is unequally distributed, some score higher some score lower on IQ tests.
Human capital theorists – each and everyone of us possess a human capital like skills/knowledge.
There’s a powerful link between education and income.
Gaetano Mosca: argues in the book that inequality is inevitable in society. No society can exist without a political
system, political system is critical for survival. Political system = coordination and decision making. Coordinating
human activity and making decisions about the coordinating process. Without the coordination there’d be chaos.
- Self interest; conflict theory – human nature is self serving. Those with power will use power to exploit
others and gain economic advantage. Inequality is inevitable.
- People said Mosca was a cynic. He always sees the worst in human nature. They also though he was a
reactionary (conservative). He takes ideas from conflict theory (self interest) and functional theory. He
uses functional theory because it argues that inequality is inevitable as well.
As division of labour becomes more complex, it gives rise to differences in evaluation and therefore rank. This
leads to stratification.
Stratification - process by which people or categories of people are socially ranked.
Inequalities of power:
Whenever there’s political organization of society, you have power inequalities. Leaders get to make the decisions.
Leadership, decision, coordination = political organization. If power differences are inevitable, then so are material
Michels: the iron law of oligarchy (group of people running society). Once people get in power, they start
“feathering their own nest” i.e. make your living arrangements more comfortable, looking after yourself, giving
jobs to your friends and political allies. Reformers may promise change but inequality and corruption is inevitable.
Lord Acton (historian) said “power corrupts” and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
• FIGURE 8.1 on p. 215 - Average Income of Canadian Families, 1951 to 2006 (in 2003 dollars) • Source: Adapted from various documents from Statistics Canada and from the Canadian Council on Social
• The growth of prosperity in the post–World War II Canadian economy is easy to illustrate.
• This figure shows the growth in the average earnings of Canadian households.
• In 2006, Canadian families earned an average income of more than $74 800.
• In the early 1950s, Canadian families earned less than $30 000 a year on average. Some of this increase
may seem misleading since a soft drink that once cost a dime now costs a dollar.
• But the incomes in the graph are corrected for such inflation and still reveal a substantial increase.
• Notice also from this figure that the average earnings of Canadian families have increased at a slower rate
recently; that is, the slope of the income line was flatter in the 1980s and 1990s than it was earlier.
• This figure simplifies reality because it is based on averages.
• Economic prosperity and the benefits of materialism are not equally shared.
Inflation is taken into account. Over time, we’ve become more weathy, more than twice as wealthy.
• FIGURE 8.3 on p. 218 - The Distribution of Total Market Income among Families, Canada, 1951 and 2005
• Source: Dominion Bureau of Statistics, Statistics Canada Cat. 13-159, 2008. CANSIM Table 2020701.
• Retrieved May 1, 2008 (http://dc1.chass.utoronto.ca.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/chasscansim).
• This figure shows that for 2005, the most recent year for which data are available, the lowest quintile of
income earners received 6.1 percent of market income (that is, income before taxes and government
transfers), while the top quintile received 42.5 percent.
• Almost half of all income was held by 20 percent of individuals and families.
• This figure shows that the distribution has changed little between 1951 and 2005.
• In 2005 the bottom quintile received 6.1 percent of total income (before income tax), while in 1951 the
figure was exactly the same.
• At the top end, the richest quintile increased its share of total income slightly, from 41.1 percent to 42.5
• The incomes in this figure are incomes Canadians receive before paying taxes.
This has stayed relatively constant. Population is divided into 1/5.
This is called the distribution of income. It’s distributed unequally.
Social structure – social stratification lasts over time. Over the years, there’s still inequality. When inequality is
established, it stays, very resistant to change. Left wing goverments are more concerned with this. Left wing
(liberal) try to re-distribute the inequality. Try to give poor people the wealthy’s money. That’s why rich people pay
more tax. Conservatives don’t agree with this.
Valued resources, do they possess valued resources.
The big three of stratification:
1. Wealth (most wealth is tied up in their homes, wealth is equipment, RRSPs, insurance policy = non-liquid
assets). They’re called non-liquid because you can’t use the house, in order to use it you have to cash it in.
money has a liquid asset because you can use money to buy anything. Money is called “medium of
exchange”. We live in a world dominated by ___ transactions. Money is always part of the exchange.
People that belong to the same social class tend to marry each other, in that sense, money does buy love.
2. Prestige: it’s a social resource. It refers to your social standing in society. How much social honour does
one possess, do people look up to you or admire you? Negative prestige, people laugh behind your back.
Institute of behaviour research (at York U); it has done surveys of the Canadian population and asked
them to rank specific occupations. Supreme court judge is the highest ranked occupation, then
professionals, then white collar (doesn’t need to have education, as long as they’re successful entrepreneurs), then executives, managerial, supervisory, clerical, technical, skilled trades (automotive
technicians), semi-skilled (sales clerk, assembly line), unskilled workers.
3. Power: it’s the ability to determine the fate of other people. So politicians have power. Donald Trump has
power. Martha Stewart. Professional groups have power over each other. Physicians control other
physicians. The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons; they run physicians. They’re independent,
nothing to do with government. These professional associations have power over their members, can kick
them out if they do something wrong. They decide who gets in, when you want to go to law school you
have to write a letter to lawyers and they decide whether you can get in. lawyers will train and certify
other lawyers. Licensed practitioners, only a licensed practitioner can practice medicine. If you do it
without approval you’re breaking the law. Professional physicians are legal monopolies. Once you’re in
the association, only people in the association can practice medicine. No one else can. Physicians have a
legal monopoly over the body and the mind. When it comes to the court case, the court will summon a
psychiatrist. They have the most influence, they’re the only once that can prescribe drugs. Some argue
that the media has power, other people say it’s influence. The media can’t make you do anything, they
can only influence.
- Generally if you have wealth, you also have prestige, if you have both, you’re likely to also have power. All
three go together. Business leaders are seen as greedy, shady, taking advantage of poor people (i.e.
conflict theory approach). Often people in business lack prestige. Bill Gates retired, he’s got power and
wealth, but short on prestige. So he does a lot of charity work. People make up for prestige by going into
charity work. So the big three don’t always go together.
- John Gotti, he was a NYC mafia. He is wealthy and powerful, but has no prestige.
- Mother Teresa has prestige and power, but is poor.
- Jimmy Hoffa was a teamsters