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SOC101 Lecture Notes - Social Inequality, Ascribed Status, Class Discrimination

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Barry Mc Clinchey

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Chapter 7: Social Inequality
Poverty in Canada:
882,188 Canadians use food banks every month. Which is strange because food is
abundant and nobody should be passed over
1. What is Social Stratification
Social Stratification:
Society’s hierarchical ranking of people into social classes
Social Class
Based on both birth and achievements
Social Status
position within the class structure
Principles of Social Stratification
~you can be anything you wanna be, achieve anything you wish
Relatively stable (some social mobility, it’s not as common as you would think)
Varies in how it presents itself (income v. prestige)
~image of class and status is complex: depends on where you live.....
Fair and just - sociologists say that the system of climbing up the latter is quite
the opposite of fair and just
Social Inequality
Inequality exists when certain attributes affect a person’s access to socially valued
Supported by dominant ideology rather than individual capability
Worth is determined by social and economic status
Blaming the Victim
Working harder will alleviate poverty
~helps us rationalize why some people are in poverty and why we are not
Blaming the System
Systematic discrimination
Ranking Individuals
Social systems rank people in two ways
closed systems and open systems
Closed System: based on ascribed status ~ born into social class and that is where you
are, who you marry and where you stay. You cannot get out of it
very little room for social mobility
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Caste systems determine what people can wear, what jobs they can perform and
who they can marry
Membership hereditary
eg, India and Japan
Open System: based on achieved status ~ every kid goes to school, we all have a
chance to the same
Result of one’s own merit within the class structure
Income, occupational prestige and education
-In theory, Canadian society would depict a country that encompasses an open
system ... people say Canada is, but we are not really
Are all Canadians capable of changing their social status? - No
Components of Inequality
Property: important indicator of where one fits into class structure
Income is defined as the money one receives annually
Wealth is defined as one’s net accumulated assets
Occupational Prestige: the social value of an occupation
~highest positions: specialists (doctors)
~changes overtime
2. Social Approaches to Stratification
~they say that we need poor people because they create opportunities for jobs
Davis-Moore thesis (1945)
Social inequality serves important social function: instills desire to fill certain
social positions, and instills the desire to complete duties and obligations
Reward must be high to attract most capable and skilled
~if you want the best people to do the most important jobs, pay, motivate
and reward them so they will achieve
~what is the problem with social inequality? where would we be with out it?
we need everybody! It serves an important purpose in society.
Social status is often hereditary
Substantial discrimination in most societies
Market forces ~~economy is an influence
Extreme fluctuations in the economy
Conflict Theory
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