SOCI 461 Lecture Notes - Kingsley Davis, Wilbert E. Moore, Social Stratification

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Postindustrial societies:
-social inequality has increased (more prominent and rapid in the US; the gap is bigger)
-technological factors are partly responsible
-many high-tech jobs have been created at the top of the stratification system which pays well
-new technologies have made many jobs routine (need little training and pay poorly)
-increase in routine jobs than jobs at the top cause an increase in inequality
-government policy is another factor
-through tax and social welfare policies, governments able to prevent big income transfers to the rich
-however, only the French have done this
Theories of Stratification
Conflict Perspectives:
-feudalism existed in medieval Western Europe
-by late 15th century, several forces were beginning to undermine feudalism
-growth of exploration and trade leading to increased demand
-some people able to open small manufacturing enterprises but needed workers (peasants) but they were
bound to the land
-thus feudalism had to wither if this were to happen (which it did)
-relations b/w workers and industrialists first encouraged rapid technological change and economic growth
-some driven out of business due to competition causing them to become working class, as well
as peasants moving into citiesworking class numbers grew
-drive for profits caused owners to keep wages low and invest little in working conditions
-thus ownership class grew richer and smaller, while working class grew larger and poorer
-felt that workers would ultimately become aware of their exploitationclass consciousness
-encouraged the growth of unions and worker’s political parties and lead to communism
Marx’s theory:
-a person’s class is determined by the source (not the amount) of his or her income (“person’s
relationship to the means of production”)
-ex. Bourgeoisie (capitalist class) vs. Proletariat (working class)
-second, it recognizes more than 2 classes in any society ex. Petite bourgeoisie
-however, bound to disappear as capitalism develops b/c they are inefficient
-just 2 great classes characterize every economic era
-finally, some of his predictions turned out to be wrong
A critique of Marx:
-industrial societies did not polarize into 2 opposed classes
-there emerged a large middle class of “white-collar” workers (act as stabilizing force in society)
-neo-Marxists recognize 2 main divisions in the social relations of work
-“new middle class” defines relations of authority and supervision
-take direction from owners and responsible for coordinating and directing work of
other employees
-Marx correctly argued that investment technology made it possible for capitalists to earn high profits
-did not expect it to also make it possible for workers to earn higher wages for fewer hours and less
oppressive conditions
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