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Sociology-class and stratification.doc

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Ivanka Knezevic

Sociology notes Class and Stratification What’s in a name? Social inequality: inequality in the distribution of societal values (wealth, power and prestige), caused by any ascribed or achieved characteristics. Includes gender, ethnic, racial, etc. inequality and socio-economic (class/status) inequality. Socio-economic inequality is a relatively stable pattern (hierarchy) of socially sanctioned, economic inequality. Inequality exists in all known societies, socio-economic inequality exists in nearly all known societies (hunting/gathering societies: gender and age inequality, but no economic inequality. Neo Marxists said income from capital is much more stable than income from labor. Did not have socio economic stability for hunting/gathering societies since they don’t own land/ have territories. Two theoretical approaches to socio-economic inequality Socio economic inequality can be described and analyzed in two ways 1. Distributional: the hierarchal arrangement of individuals based upon wealth, power and prestige. Socio economic status (SES) is an individual’s position in this hierarchy SES indicators: property, income, education, occupation, occupational prestige, political participation, political power, consumption patterns etc. Stratum is a category of people with similar amounts of wealth, power and prestige Assumed value consensus, therefore exceptionality of conflict. 2. Relational: socio-economic inequality is a relationship between classes, groups who differ in their access to means of production. Differences and/or antagonism in class interests Normality of class conflict Question: are there classes in Canada? Yes Emergence and maintenance of socio-economic inequality Emergence of inequality may be due to chance and to apparently insignificant differences between individuals/groups Once inequality emerges, the privileged develop a system of social control (socialization and coercion) to maintain it. th th Some societies resist establishment of inequality (e.g the 20 c. !Kung; the 18 century Iroquois) Iroquois : Based on communal property, no private property (property on means of production) Meritocracy and social mobility Meritocracy: a social system wherein status is achieved by merit (ability and effort). It assumes equality of opportunity and perfect social mobility (no obstacles for person moving up for
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