Textbook/Lecture NotesChapter 8: Social Stratification 1
Patterns of Social Inequality
Shipwrecks and Inequality
•Writers / filmmakers often use shipwrecks to describe inequality, because after the
shipwreck, people are stripped of their wealthiness and have only the basic essentials left,
and all social classes become equal. Movies like "Swept Away", "Titanic" explain this
Economic Inequality in Canada
•the poors are more likely to sell organs and the riches are more likely to buy organs. The
poors are less likely to be offered transplant opportunities due to not having adequate private
health insurance, or the fact that they're more likely to donate instead of receiving. The
typical donors in Canada are usually youngens and are victims of accidental or deliberate
•Materialism (the attempt to satisfy needs by buying products or experiences) is a defining
characteristic of modern society.
•Economic Prosperity (success) makes Canada one of the best countries to live in (average
earning = $74,800).
•Calcuating income inequality => 100 ppl earnd 300,000. divide them into 5 groups, compare
the % of earning distribution between the top group and bottom group. Top group earned
120,000 (40%) and bottom group earned 12,000 (4%), thus we can tell that there is a huge
gap between the 2 groups. Thus there is social inequality. The MOST UNEQUALed
distribution would be 100% vs 0%, and the MOST EQUALed distribution would be 20% per
•By using the method above, if we re-look at the economic prosperity of Canada, the top
group has increased while the bottom group has decreased, thus income inequality has
increased. Also, Income inequality has widened in most rich countries.
Explanations of Income Inequality
•The job a person holds play a huge rolein income distribution (To get those jobs, education
is needed more nowadays comparing to before).
•Most people begin the journey toward adult employment within a family circle and are
certain to be exposed to whatever is prevalent there (family influence often determines your
educational level / future career)
•Thus, Individuals must supply talent and effort to accumulate human capital (sum of useful
skills and knowledge that an individual posesses) but RATES of success also depend on the
human captial their FAMILIES accumulated in previous generations.
Human Captial Theory
•the investment in education and training which will get people better jobs. Higher
education/training = higher paying jobs.
•However, sometimes people with the same education level can get different level jobs. This
involves Social capital in which if a person has good networks and connections, the person
can get better jobs.
•Cultural capital emphasizes a set of social skills people have, thei ability to impress others,
use language and images effectively, and to influence and persuade people. The idea of
cultural capital emphasizes your impression-management skills, your ability to influence
•Both Social and Cultural capitals emphasize being part of the right "social club".
Income verus Wealth