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Lecture 4

Social inequality Lecture 4.docx

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Augie Fleras

Lecture 3 Last week  Is class a value as an explanatory framework?  W.I. Thomas: phenomena do not have to be real, to be real in their consequences Poverty  Elites have a certain classness about them that can explain their patterns of behavior  The poor, because of their visibility and their impact on class, the notions of class then become and are given a certain visibility  Poverty has a common sense understanding and it is possible that those who are not well educated in sociology may find that this term is not problematic  The reality is considerably different and we have a concept that is astonishingly complex, in-definitive, and so multidimensional that it is easy to despair any kind of conclusions that suggests we have a body of knowledge about poverty  Poverty is a concept that has no national definition in Canada, the federal refuses to define poverty and refers to it as people who live in straightened circumstances or in low income brackets  Poverty is a condition that is sustained by deprivation that involves resources, choices, security, power and participation which are necessary for enjoyment of adequate standard of living and rights  No acceptable measure of poverty, so we have vaiours types of measures used in Canada and globally; awkward in terms of comparison because they deal with different types of criteria o LICO: people who are poor and spend more than 50% of their income on their shelter o Limb: increasingly popular but it is difficult to do comparisons, low income measures o Market basket measures: basket of goods you need to survive in Canada o All different measures yield different results  Consensus in terms of how much poverty there is: should it be measured in absolute terms (stomach stretching poverty) or relative measured (standard of living we expect in Canada, participation, inclusion, being able to afford the things required to have a normal standard of living in Canada) o Extrememly complex in defining the poverty in Canada o The UN in 2005 (LIM), just under 20% of children in Canada were poor o Campaign 2000 (LICO), only about 12% of poor children o Stats Canada had an even lower figure o Fraser institute (reminds Canadaisn that poverty and inequality are not the same thing), only 6% of children in Canada are poor  Poverty is more than chronic, it can be transitional as people move from early earning days into more mature earning income; it can be episodic  William Watson: between 2000-2005 only 1% of individuals stayed within the poverty level for that 5 year period  Measuring poverty before tax and transfers and after o Difference in what people earn and in what income and tax breaks one has; which can reduce poverty of 50% with benefits  Short term/ long term poverty cycles o Chris Shelly: in 1989 we had, 11.9% children living in poverty, in 2010 it was 9% (LICO)  Our generic category is social inequality, which are focused around systems of stratification, next there is a class system, and finally there is poverty  Distinguishing the underclass from the working class is problematic because the poor and those who live in poverty tend to be work aversive (lazy), prefer to stay on welfare in stead of work BUT one of the major sources of poverty IS the working poor  Precarious work: based on part-time, sessional, contingent, temporary and are unlikely to be financially rewarding and you may not be able to earn enough to escape from the poverty line  Even these distinction between the working class and the underclass are problematic that we need to be aware of  The distinction between absolute and relative poverty o Absolute: “stomach stretching”/subsistence, LICO measures, market basket measures o Relative poverty: inclusion and participation, LIM Consequences of poverty  Structure never determines; if influences, constrains, and restricts but there is always some degree of choice and option  Increases probability of having poorer health and social economic deprivations but it is not a determined outcome  Cannot put too much stress on poverty o Does poverty cause crime? o The relationship is not direct o It depends; crimes of desperations  Connection but not necessarily a causal connection; there are certain circumstances that render it more likely or less likely  Usually it is the more affluent that engage in the extremist behaviour because they have the resources to plot and engage their plans of antisocial activity  Rioting in the streets o Analyzing the events that occurred in Britain over 5 days where there were massive riots in different parts of London and middle England o Tries to demonstrate that there is a host of reasons and root causes that may be at play but we shouldn’t underestimate the role of the underclass (mostly young men who have little education and employment opportunities, there is a critical mass of individua
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