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Lecture 10

Lecture 10th - SOCA01H3.docx

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Sheldon Ungar

SOCA01H3 – Lecture 10 th Chapter 8: Social Stratification: Canadian and Global Perspectives PATTERNS OF SOCIAL INEQUALITY Shipwrecks and Inequality  Use shipwrecks and their survivors to make a point about social inequality  It allows them to sweep away all traces of privilege and social convention; remains human beings stripped to bare essentials for the study of wealth and poverty, power and powerlessness, and esteem and disrespect  Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe writes about a man deserted on an island and able to create it into a thriving colony; portray work ethic of capitalism favourable. Believed that people get rich if they possess virtues of good businesspeople (strong will, hard work, and inventiveness) and stay poor if they don’t  1974 Italian movie Swept Away , teaches four hash lessons: 1. do not need to work hard to be rich b/c you can inherit wealth 2. hard work doesn’t always make you rich 3. something about the structure of society causes inequality b/c only on deserted islands w/o society, that class inequality disappears 4. inequality has many interrelated dimensions including class, sex, and race Economic Inequality in Canada  economic prosperity has made Canada one of the best countries in the world to live  in 2006, Canadian families made an average income of $74, 800  in early 1950s, Canadian families earned less than $30k  purchasing power of families increased b/c economic productivity enhanced by improvements in workers’ skills, and by advances in technologies used for production Explanations of Income Inequality  job a person holds plays a large role; bank presidents paid more than branch managers  some individuals earn unusually high salaries b/c they’ve natural talents i.e. Shania Twain (popular music)  although talent and effort matter, rewards follow only when these are refined into particular skills; but who develops which skills depends access to learning environments 1  ability to lend guidance or assistance is often scare and unequally accessible; ppl begin adult employment within family circle  success at formal schooling is key to acquiring economically valued skills  since industrial revolution, an ever-growing proportion of jobs have required formal schooling in ever-greater amounts  ability to communicate persuasively, think critically, reason logically, and work creatively affects occupations they hold & income receive  natural talent and effort are important but educate matters a lot  importance of education as a determinant of occupation and income continues to increase  chances of advancing in educational systems has consistently remained higher for people born in families that are relatively more educated  individuals must supply talent and effort to accumulate human capital  sum of useful skills and knowledge than an individual possess; rates also depend on human capital families accumulated in prev. generations Human Capital Theory  stresses increasing centrality of education as a factor affecting economic success  physical capital is an investment in industrial plants and equipment, human capital is investment in education and training  part of reason why people w/ same amount of human capital may receive different economic rewards is that they possess different amounts of social capital Social capital refers to the networks or connections that individuals possess. o More likely to be successful if have strong bonds of trust, cooperation, mutual respect, and obligation w/ well-positioned individuals or families o Knowing the right people, and having strong links to them, helps in attaining opportunities Cultural capital is the stock of learning and skills that increases the chance of securing a superior job.  People’s ability to impress others, use language and images effectively, and to influence and persuade people  Although notion of social capital stresses your networks and connections w/ others, idea of cultural capital emphasizes impression-management skills, your ability to influence others  Both concepts emphasize being part of the right “social club”; both have the ideas that families higher in social hierarchy enjoy more capital of al types o Connections and culture help find good job o Hiring new recruits depends on talent, effort, and skills that people bring to the interview but it also depends on the connections and culture that people have 2 Income and Poverty  Homelessness is one manifestation of poverty  Poverty lacks an agreed definition 1. Whether poverty should be defined in absolute or relative terms  absolute definition focuses on bare essentials, suggesting that poor families have resources inadequate to acquire basic necessities of life  what is essential varies extraordinarily and depends on values and judgements  relative poverty line also has drawbacks; relative to what? And how relative?  Whether poverty defined narrowly in terms of economic measures (i.e. income) or more broadly w/ respect to community standards (i.e. safety of working conditions) which leads to second disagreement 2. most definitions tend to be narrow, focusing primarily on income  should poverty be defined on basis of income or basis of consumption  definition of poverty don’t matter to the poor but they do for social policies to be enacted  social police has profound impact on distribution of opportunities and rewards in Canada  politics can reshape distribution of income and system of inequality by changing laws governing people’s right to own property o also alter patterns of inequality by entitling people to various welfare benefits and by redistributing income through tax policies  Canada doesn’t have an official definition of poverty, instead Statistics Canada reports what is called low-income cutoff  term for 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, like resulting in straitened circumstances. Myths about the Poor 1. People are poor because they don’t want to work. o Most poor families at least one person works 2. the overwhelming majority of poor people are immigrants. o Individuals and family heads who are immigrants and who arrived in Canada before 1980 generally experience poverty at lower rates than native-born Canadians do o Higher poverty rates are evident among more recent immigrants who are less well established, but recent immigrants are only a fraction of all poor people 3 3. the welfare rolls are crammed with young people who ought to be earning a living. o 1997 National Council of Welfare reported that only 4% of welfare recipients were under age of 20 and only 16% were under 25 4. most poor people are trapped in poverty. o One in three people w/ low income in 2002 moved beyond it in 2003 Explaining Poverty  Individual level explanation focuses on attributes of people who are poor o This type of explanation focuses on causes that lie “within the person” o Someone who is poor, on this logic, shows low intelligence or behaves abnormally o This explanation does account for a small amount of poverty  Another explanation focuses on attitudes of individuals – not on attributes inherited but acquired o Social-psychological type of explanation emphasizes low self-esteem, lack of achievement motivation, and an inability to delay gratification o On this logic, poverty is perpetuated b/c poor families employ inadequate child-rearing practices that enhance bad attitudes o Stresses “culture of poverty”  a way of thinking and acting shared by poor families; reinforces and perpetuates itself through poor upbringing and ill-formed personalities  Social organization of society or subsystems in society is an explanation of poverty o Capitalist economies feature cyclical booms and busts, periods of low unemployments and high profits followed by high unemployment and low profits o tax collection also affects poverty i.e. although people with higher wages pay more in tax than those who earn more. But most families pay same percentage of their total income in tax i.e. GST and fuel taxes are flat/neutral regardless of income and also those who earn more likely to shelter money from taxation through registered education savings plans  ways of thinking, or ideological perspectives, as explanations of poverty o negative images of various groups lead to an undervaluing of ways of life some people i.e. First Nations and people with disabilities o discrimination follows and it seriously affects poverty o undervaluing of talents and identities leads to less success in finding jobs; even when job found, work is unsteady and low paying 4 International Differences Global Inequality  Canada is one of the richest countries in the world, Angola is the poorest nations on earth  Most Angolans live in houses made of cardboard, tin, and cement blocks o Few have running water o Average income is about $7800 o Life expectancy is 38yo o More than half of population unemployed or underemployed and poverty rate is more than 70% o Millions of landmines scattered throughout countryside Global inequality refers to differences in the economic ranking of countries. Cross-national variations in internal stratification are differences among countries in their stratification systems. Internal Stratification How does internal stratification differ from one country to the next?  Answer this question by examining the Gini index Gini index is a measure of income inequality. Its value ranges from zero (which means that every household earns exactly the same amount of money) to one (which means that all income is earned by a single household). Development and Internal Stratification Horticultural and Pastoral Societies  People established first agricultural settlements, which were based on hortic
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