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SOCY 227 (51)
Lecture

Chapter 8 Notes.doc

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOCY 227
Professor
Richard Ascough
Semester
Fall

Description
Chapter 8 Social Stratification: Canadian and Global Perspectives Patterns of Social Inequality Shipwreck and Inequality: -social inequality can be compared to a shipwreck Ex. Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe -about an Englishman marooned on an island -his hard work turns the island into a thriving colony -portrays the work ethic of capitalism -believed that people get rich if they possess virtues of good business people Ex. Swept Away -opposite of Robinson Crusoe -rich woman treats deckhands rudely, gets shipwrecked w/ one of them, they fall in love but when they are rescued they return to how they were before -movie sends 4 messages that contrast w/ the theme’s of Robinson Crusoe 1. You don’t have to work hard to be rich b/c you can inherit wealth 2. Hard work does not always make you rich 3. Something about the structure of society causes inequality (b/c class inequality only disappears on the deserted island) -unequal power b/w sexes 4. Inequality has many interrelated dimensions, including class, sex, and race, and different contexts highlight different conditions of power and exploitation Ex. Titanic -at first, the theme is that class differences are important -as the tragedy unfolds a different theme emerges -under some circumstances, class differences can be erased -therefore it can be an optimistic tale that holds out hope for society in which class differences no longer matter (“American Dream”) Economic Inequality in Canada: -idea that money is power is a perennial theme”everything has a price” -thus selling of sperm, ova, and blood is more common -global organ shortage has encouraged the sale of organs, esp. in India -has also stimulated the use of organs from executed prisoners esp. in China -people selling body parts are almost invariably poor -people buying body parts are invariably rich -an increasing number of wealthy people (although not common) take their surgeons to poor countries to buy organs to prolong their life -in N.A. esp. the US, poor people more likely to suffer illness that could be alleviated by organ transplantation than the rich -also less likely to be offered transplant opportunities -poor don’t have adequate private health insurance -poor also more likely to be donors -the sale of organs is not banned b/c argue that it might cost buyers their life and also infringe on the autonomy of sellers -materialism: attempt to satisfy needs by buying products or experiences -defining characteristic of modern society -economic prosperity has made Canada one of the best countries to live in -can be seen in the average income of Canadian families from 1950-2006 -purchasing power of families rose -due to enhanced productivity, improved worker’s skills, advances in technology -however, average earnings have increased at a slower rate more recently -economic prosperity and materialism not equally shared -the concept of the share of income held by each quintile is frequently used to investigate income inequality -allows researchers to determine whether inequality is growing or shrinking -among rich countries, income inequality is lowest in Sweden and highest in the US -Canada is b/w these two extremes -income inequality has changed little b/w 1951 and 2005 in Canada -income inequality has widened in most rich countries but not by much in Canada Explanations or Income Inequality: -the job a person holds plays a large role -some jobs not only pay less but have restricted hours of work or periods of unemployment -thus, income inequality depends on what kinds of work a person can obtain -some people earn high salaries b/c they have natural talents at activities that are widely admired -ex. Jerome Iginla, Victoria Bertram, Shanaia Twain, Mike Weird -although talent and effort matter, they only pay off when they are reined to particular skills -many skills are relativepeople can only develop to the level of those to whom they are exposed -ex. Tennisrequires stiff competition to develop skills -many skills require recognition and encouragement for development -when individuals begin to participate in formal education, what they encounter varies in compatibility w/ earlier experiences, mostly gained w/ family members -success at formal schooling is the key to acquiring economically valued skills -since Industrial Revolution, more jobs require formal education -majority of income earners able to think critically, communicate persuasively, reason logically, and work creatively -affects the occupation they hold and their incomes -importance of education as a determinant of occupation and income continues to increase -the chances of advancing in educational systems is higher for people born into families that are relatively more educated -individuals must supply talent and effort to accumulate human capital -but, rates of success also depend on human capital accumulated by their family in previous generations 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
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