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Lecture 6

SOCA01H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Achieved Status, General Position, Infant Mortality

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Malcolm Mac Kinnon

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Social stratification – refers to persistent patterns of social inequality in society: how
wealth, power & prestige are socially distributed and transmitted from one generation
to the next
- exists in all societies
Complexity & Inequality
- Some sociologists say that politics is primarily responsible for equality
- Or that social complexity is most significant
-Occupational complexity –
-In hunter-gatherer societies, division of labour is men hunt & women gather
they share everything
- In Inuit culture, the old ppl walk out in the blizzard and don’t come back b/c
they feel like they’re a burden to society
-The legitimacy argument – occupations try to legitimize what they make,
using excuses such as skill, time, dangers
Mosca on the Inevitability of Inequality
- Mao tried to impose equality and the death toll was 40 million
- His book “the ruling class”
- Inequality is inevitable because societies can’t exist w/o politics
-Politics – form of decision making & coordination
- Societies are organized and politics does the organizing
- Inequality must exist
-Anarchism – political ideas that is suspicious of power & authority
- Believe that inequality is the source of all social problems
- In favour of equality
- First you have political organization, then you have inequalities of power
- When power differences are inevitable, material & inequality is inevitable
- if you have more power, you use it to your advantage
- ppl say Mosca is too pessimistic, synic
- Michels (conflict & elite theorist)
-Iron law of oligarchy - it doesn’t matter what any political leader promises
you, once they get into power, they end up being like everybody else b/c of the
nature of power – it corrupts
- Inequalities of power encourage corruption
-Stratificationprocess by which categories of ppl are ranked by socially
differentiated characteristics
Class Structure
-class is a group of ppl who have about the same access to economic resources
-class structure refers to a relatively stable & prominent hierarchy of classes
- the existence of classes has been questioned recently because some scholars
believe that material inequalities are decreasing
The big 3 of social stratification
- wealth, prestige & power
-wealth – holdings in liquid & non-liquid asset
-prestige – your social standing in society
-power – if you can determine the fate of other ppl, then you have power
- usually all 3 go together, however there are a few exceptions (ex. John Gotti
had wealth & power but no prestige)
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