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SOCI 461 (17)

Human Capital theory.docx

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McGill University
Sociology (Arts)
SOCI 461
Richard Koestner

Human Capital theory: -stresses the increasing centrality of education as a factor affecting economic success -productivity gains can also result from investment in the skills and abilities of people -knowledge intensive jobs are increasingly numerous in Canada -better educated workers are more skilled and productive in these jobs -part of reason why people w/ same amount of human capital may receive different economic rewards is that they possess different amounts of social capital -people more likely to succeed if have strong bonds of trust, cooperation, mutual respect and obligation w/ well- positioned families -a related reason of this argument is cultural capital -emphasizes a set of social skills people have, their ability to impress others, to use language and images effectively, and to influence and persuade people -emphasizes your impression-management skills -but also stresses connections and networks -both concepts emphasize being part of the right “social club” -also has the idea that families higher in social hierarchy enjoy more capital of all types -culture and connections often influence who gets interviewed Natural talentRewards Natural talent + EffortRewards Natural talent + Effort + Skill-rich environments + Developed skillsRewards Natural talent + Effort + Skill-rich environments + Developed skills+ Social and cultural capitalRewards Income versus Wealth: -from the top 10 riches people or families, inheritance is a critical factor -none of them rose from rags to riches -suggests a mix of family fortune, business acumen, and opportunism as key determinants of wealth -only a few acquire the wealth of major enterprises but most own assets (for most adults assets are cars, appliances, furniture, and savings) -some wealthier families own equity in a house and more fortunate ones about to accumulate stocks and bonds -bottom 40% of families own no assets and may owe more than they own -top quintile have increased in wealth -wealth inequality increasing rapidly in Canada (not as much as the USsurpass all industrialized countries in wealth inequality) -only a modest correlation with income and wealth (some wealthy people have low annual incomes) -income redistribution has little to do w/ the distribution of wealth therefore, it may not get at the root of economic inequality Income and Poverty: -the number of homeless people are increasing -homelessness is one manifestation of poverty -poverty lacks an agreed definition -disagreement on whether it should be defined in absolute or relative terms -absolute: focuses on “bare essentials”; suggests that poor families have resourc
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