SOC 2390 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Patricia Hill Collins, Feminist Epistemology, Meritocracy

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13 Dec 2016
Class and stratification notes
LIB CODE; 21188004302954
Lecture 1
Functionalist theory (America 1940s)
1. Davis and moore 1945; people are rewarded according to the value of their job and the training
and skills required to attain them hard working makes you do well in society
2. Status quo works sociologists jobs to show how status quo operates
3. Social inequality as an unconsciously evolved device by which societies insure that the most
important positions are conscientiously filled by the most qualified
4. Presumes those most inclined toward advancements and with inherited qualities to do so will
Criticisms of functionalism
1. Assumes no discrimination based on race, gender, lack of education or lack of opportunity
2. Fails to see the ways parents are passing on class status to kids or generationally (reproducing
in/ out of group distinctions)
3. Inequality is actually non-functional because it impairs most talented among the lower ranks
from actually achieving potential society should allow everyone to strive to achieve
4. Doest eplai h ipotat oles like high akig officials are paid less than less socially
useful oes like CEOs (people ae ot motivated by money or prestige)
Marxist theory 19th century
1. Class struggle and relations; represent struggle between groups over the control of the means of
2. Class; can be objectively based on whether one sells their labour power to access goods or wage
necessary for survival or whether one collects the surplus value generated by that work
3. Class defined 2; class is objectively discernable category because class interest or consciousness
(ex the bourgeoisie or the proletariat , maps directly onto ones socio-economic position)
4. Class struggle will lead to inevitable revolution social transformation
Criticisms of Marxism
1. Class relations did not become more divisive into the 20th century but became blurred by the
emergence of a middle class (concessions to works rights and benefits, also other hegemonic
strategies for unification like nationalism)
2. Lack of opportunity for solidarity building as job sector diversified and later under post-
industrialism, stable, unionized manufacturing jobs left canada (replaced by service sectors)
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3. Similarly at the top management splintered off from ownership (ex faceless shareholders)
makes it difficulty yo identify the enemy in complex/ hierarchical organizations (though porter
points to a conflict between management and owners)
The dominant modes of stratification across times and places (porter)
1. Caste system
-non western/traditional derived
-absolute limits on social mobility, inter-group contact or inter-group marriage
-primarily social or status based-criteria for group memberships
-ex india; untouchability made illegal in 1950
-embedded in social nad economic structures some argue race comes into this
2. Estate
Some formal contraints on social mobility, inter-group contact exists
-groupings according to both social and economic criteria
-ex 1th century france
3. class
-social mobility possible in principle but limited by social structure
-grouped according to economic criteria; class is an economic classification , in contrast with caste
system were status is born with and unmoving
-ex canada today
3. e
READING: what money cant buy: the moral limits of markets, sandel, MJ, farrar (17-41)
1. “oiet has eated ueues fo fast takig thigs suh as lies, suh ues a e a theat to
security and gives privilages to those who pay
2. Opponents to jumping the queue; proliferation f fast track schemes adds to the advantages of
affluence and consigns the poor to the back of the line
3. Those in favour of jumping queues; long lines for goods and services are wasteful so economic
efficiency is raised when people are allowed to pay
4. Line standing has become a business; (cottage business); uses people like the homeless, retirees
or others looking to make money used in congress, supreme court hearings
5. Ticket scalping and doctor appointments; many farmers in china travel to the cities for medical
attention but cant receive it due to ticket scalpers controlling prices to get to see specialists
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6. Concierge doctors; physician at ones service around the clock for money
7. Arguments; individual freedom vs maximizing welfare or social utility; infringe on individual
freedoms vs utility increases (libertarian vs utilitarian)
8. Markets and queuespaying and waitingare two different ways of allocating things, and each
is appropriate to different activities
9. The ethi of the ueue, Fist oe, fist seed, has a egalitaia appeal. It ids us to igoe
privilege, power, and deep pocketsat least for certain purposes
Sandels key questions
1. Is lining up for things the great equalizer (a kind of truly free market)
2. Are certain goods like public good that should not be distributed based on free market principles
-can be the market evening itself out
-is it right to deprive some groups fro things because they are not wealthy enough not equal
because lof no first come first serve
-linestanding; is this democratic? Promotes commoditization and unequal opportunities
economists believe in this because of its free market potential (line-standing is an honest job)
READING: class and power: the major themes (3-28 In the vertical mosaic; an analysis of social class and
power in canada)
-made marking on sociolog i aada; pote didt get to update afte 96s
- studies class and power; Canada was an open, egalitarian, democratic society where people from all
backgrounds can make a living HOWEVER PORTER SAYS THIS IS A MYTHOnly approximately 3 per
cent of Canadians had sufficient income and wealth to enjoy the popular image of a middle-class
lifestyle. Over 75 per cent of Canadians made less than half the necessary amount
-diffiult to talk aout lasses as sujetie atego; fato oes s okes
-lico; is an income threshold below which a family will likely devote a larger share of its income
on the necessities of food, shelter and clothing than the average family.
Lecture week 2; troubling meritocracy
1. The idea that the fairest system is one that, through free competition
rewards effort, skill, training and natural talent those who are lazy are
punished (incentive to work hard in society)(free market situation-> not
everyone can compete equally)
2. Two arguments to defend meritocracy; moral and practical argument
3. Framed as spirit of governing free market in tandem with American dream
4. Meritocracy remains oblivious to socially embedded privileges (impact of
class distinctions, racialization’s and gender
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