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SOCY 500

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 inequalit
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