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Chapter 8 Social Stratification.docx

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SOC 205
Richard Ennis

Chapter 8 Social Stratification Shipwrecks and Inequality Robinson Crusoe classic novel of an Englishman marooned on a deserted island and works hard to turn the island into a colony Swept Away movie about a deckhand and rich lady being stranded on an island from a storm that hit their cruise, they fall in love but once they are rescued the rich woman ignores the deckhandman. 4 harsh messages 1. You don`t have to work hard to be rich 2. Hard work does not always make you rich 3. Something about the structure of society causes inequality(at the deserted island, the inequality disappears) Titanic, when cruise hits ice berg, it gives the young lovers an opportunity to cross class divisions and profess devotion to each other. Economic Inequality in Canada In North America poor people are more likely than rich people are to suffer illnesses that could be alleviated by organ transplant, but aren’t given such opportunities. Poor don’t have private health insurance to cover transplantation expenses. Poor are more likely to be organ donors. (b/c ‘typical donor is still young and a victim of accidental or deliberate violence which strikes the disadvantaged in disproportionate numbers. Materialism is a defining characteristic of modern society. Economic prosperity has made Canada one of the best countries in the world to live. Graph on pg 215, income has been rising. Most families now have at least two earners, but the prospect of buying a house, and owning more of it than the bank does, is still a struggle. (Line example, make a line of people who earned the most in the beginning of the line, and the ones who made the least at the end of the line, see the difference between the top 20% and the bottom 20% In income. Unequal distribution would be if the top quintile held 100 percent of the money, and equal distribution is if the top 20% held 20% of the money. This is a good way to measure if inequality is growing or shrinking.) Income inequality is highest in USA, lowest in Sweden, Canada stands in the middle. Image on pg 218 of Income in top 1/5, bottom 1/5 etc. BEFORE income taxes( income taxes will equalize it somewhat because concept of a welfare state implies taking from the rich and giving to the poor) Explanations of Income Inequality Some individuals earn unusually high salaries and become famous because they have natural talents. Close examination of lives blessed by extraordinary success often reveals unusual determination and hard work. Since industrial revolution, ever-growing proportion of jobs have required formal schooling in ever- greater amounts. Human capital is the sum of useful skills and knowledge that an individual possesses. Individuals must supply talent and effort to accumulate human capital. Human Capital Theory Human capital theory stresses the increasing centrality of education as a factor affecting economic success. If physical capital is understood as investment in industrial plans and equipment, human capital is investment in education and training. Part of the reason that people with the same amount of human capital may receive different economic rewards is they possess different amounts of social capital. Social capital refers to the networks or connections that individuals possess. Cultural capital is the stock of learning and skills that increases the chance of securing a superior job (a set of social skills people have, their ability to impress others, to use language and images effectively, and to influence and persuade people. Both concepts emphasize being part of the right ‘social club’ Culture & Connections often influence who gest an interview. Income vs. Wealth In Canada, people on the top 10 list had well to do or solid middle class parents, none rose from rags to riches. Wealthy families can accumulate other assets, such a stocks & bonds, retirement savings, and vacation homes. The bottom 20% owe more $ than they own. Wealth inequality is increasingly rapid in Canada but not as much as the United States. Some wealthy people have low annual incomes, some people with high annual incomes Annual income is not the best measure of a person’s well being. Income tax laws has little effect on the distribution of wealth. Income and Poverty Homeless are increasing. First disagreement occurs aroud whether poverty should be defined in absolute or relative terms. An absolute definition of poverty focuses on ‘bare essentials’, bare essentials > food, water, basic necessities of life. What is essential varies from time to time, place to place, and group to group. People define poverty as in relation to the social and economic context in which people live. Second area of disagreement is whether poverty ought to be defined narrowly, in terms of economic measures (income), or broadly with respect to community standards (safety of working conditions) Most definitions are narrow focusing on income Should poverty be defined on basis of income or consumption? Deprivation occurs when a family cannot acquire the essentials, not necessarily when the income of course. People with high net wealth can live off their savings with low income. Poverty showing fewer poor Canadians means less gov’t change is needed. Political parties and politicans are supporting the poor as it is benefial to their cause. Low Income CUtoff is statistic canad’as term for the income threshold below which a family devotes a larger share of its income to the necessities of food, shelter and clothing than an average family would. Many families move in and out of poverty because of unemploymtnet, reduced work hours, and episodes of poor health. Myths about Poor are people ‘deserving’ or ‘undeserving’ Myth 1 people are poor because they don’t want to work. (In most poor families at least one family member works. Having a good job is one of the best forms of insurance against living in poverty, but is not a perfect insulator. (minimum wage) Myth 2 : The overwhelming majority of poor people are immigrants. They experience poverty at lower rates than native born. Myth 3: The welfare rolls are crammed with young people who ought to be earning a living Only 4% of welfare recipients were under age of 20, 16% under 25. Among single parents o n welfare only 3% were under the age of 20. Myth 4: Most poor people are trapped in poverty. 1/3 in people in low income in 2002 moved beyond it by 2003. Explaining Poverty Individual level explanations ask how these people differ from people who are not poor. Focuses on causes that lie ‘within the person’. Individual attributes do explain a small amount of poverty. We know that clinically disadvantaged are more likely to live in poverty. And that the vast majority of people living in poverty don’t have disabilities. Related form of explanation focuses more on attitudes of individuals not on attributes that are inherited, but on attributes or stigmas that are acquired. ‘Culture of poverty’ > lack of self esteem, lack of achievement motivation… this is carried down to children that enhance bad attitudes. Varoious objections undermine this There is a cause and effect… people who are poor develop bad attitudes. Many people who are poor do work, are religious, don’t smoke or drink. Organization of our economy affects poverty. Capitalist economies feature cyclical booms and busts, periods of low unemployment and high profits followed by unemployment and high profits. If you worked minimum wage full time you would still be poor, especially if you had children to support. If minimum wages were to rise, so too might the level of unemployment because some employers might not be able to afford to pay higher wages. Progessive taxation system ($100 000 pay a larger percent of their income as tax than do those who earn $50 000) (This is still somewhat neutral as people pay a flat or neutral fee on GST and fuel taxes as it is baed on their consumption. Second, those who earn more are able to shelter much of their income from taxation (registered savings plan). Finally, other sociologists would stress ways of thinking, or ideological perspectives as explanations for poverty. Discrimination seriously effects poverty. (Undervaluing of the ways of life as some people, such as first nations). Undervaluing people leads to less success in finding jobs. Europe has lower poverty rates than Canada as it has established job training and child care programs that allow poor people to take jobs with livable wages and benefits(which is a political choice) International Differences Global Inequality Canada is one of the most richest countries of the world. Angola is the poorest nations on earth. Angola half the population is unemployed or underemployed and the poverty rate is 70 percent. Lots of landm
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