Social Class in Canada- Chapter 11
Social stratification: a system by which a society ranks categories of people in a
Social mobility: a change in position within the social hierarchy
Caste System: social stratification based on ascription or birth
Class system: social stratification based on both birth and individual achievement
Meritocracy: social stratification based on personal merit
Status consistency: the degree of consistency in a person’s social standing across
various dimensions of social inequality.
Wealth- the total amount of money and other assets, minus outstanding debts.
Dimensions of Social Inequality
Social Stratification involves many dimensions:
Income- Earnings from work and investments are unequal, with the richest
20% of families earning eight times as much as the poorest 20% of families.
Wealth- The total value of all assets minus debts, wealth is distributed more
unequally than income, with the richest 20% of families holding 85% of the
Power- income and wealth (assets such as stock or real estate) are important
sources of power.
Occupational Prestige- Work generate not only income but also prestige.
While collar jobs generally offer more income and prestige than blue- collar
jobs. Many lower-prestige jobs are performed by women and visible
Schooling- schooling affects both occupation and income. Some categories of
people have greater opportunities for schooling than others.
Canadian Stratification: Merit and Caste
Although Canada is a meritocracy, social position in this country involves
some caste elements.
Ancestry- Being born into a particular family affects a person’s opportunities
for schooling, occupation, and income.
Race and Ethnicity- Families of European ancestry enjoy high social
standing based on income and wealth. In contrast, Aboriginal and most
visible minority families are disadvantaged.
Gender- on average, women have less income, wealth and occupational
prestige than men.
Social Classes in Canada
Defining social classes in Canada is difficult because of low status
consistency and relatively high social mobility. But we can describe 4 general
rankings: o The upper class- 3-5% of the population. Most members of the upper
class inherited their wealth. The loew upper class work at high-paying
o The middle class- 40-50% od the population. People in the upper
middle class have significant wealth and almost all attend university;
average middles have less prestige; do white collar work, and are
likely to be high school graduates.
o The working class- 30-35% of the population. People in the lower-
middle class do blue collar work; their children are less likely to
o The lower class- 20% of the population. Most people in the lower class
lack financial security due to low income; ma