SOC371H1s: Political Sociology | Measuring Inequality: Jan. 29, 13
Last Week: 3 typical frameworks that political sociologists identify the relationship b/t
state and society.
Today: Measuring Inequality: The Power of Ideas—how the role of culture, and
hegemonic ideas are expressed in a way that shape the economic and values in society.
How different groups have used these ideas to progress their interests.
o Social classes: Weber “share common goods etc.”
o Hegemony: is one social classes predominance over another
o Hegemonic worldview: unquestioned dominance of one social class over
o Latent tension exists and there are always challenges to the dominance of
Measurement of poverty: 2 different concepts of poverty—Olsen: “(1) Relative poverty:
poor in comparison to your social class, or reference group, and (2) Absolute poverty: the
lack of basic needs”
o Relative inequality correlates well with Geniecoefficient
o Absolute poverty will underestimate the experience of poverty people actually
o –Socially determined, NOT objective decision
o Relative Poverty makes the poverty population seem larger
o GDP: what does it mean? Its central role in policymaking, and alt. ways to define
A Critical Look at Measurements:
o Consider various kinds of challenges that arise:
o Epistemological and theoretical challenges: what do the figures mean |figures and
o Technological Challenges: how are figures and indicators produced
o Dissemination Challenges: Access to statistical info.
o Political challenges: Legitimacy and acceptance
o Power Challenges: Whether and how that measurement or indicator is used and
for who’s benefits. Measurement as an instrument of power
o Allowed the “allies” to budget and plan for their war time spending and eventual
success of WW2
o Key indicators of whether a state is going in the right direction or not
o Since its adoption in 1944: it requires that every country collects data and
provides it to GNP or GDP
o The value of a country’s overall output of FINAL goods and services, (typically
one fiscal year) @ market price, excluding net income form abroad. SOC371H1s: Political Sociology | Measuring Inequality: Jan. 29, 13
o GNP originally developed as a tool to measure how a country will pay for war?
o If the GDP of a country rises does the standards of living in a country rise?
o Exists a problem: GDP overtime is consistently increasing. –Critics have
noticed that other changes in society have contributed to the GDP growth
i.e. income inequality, labour market changes, precarious work,
breakdown of the nuclear family, increasing pollution
The discrepancy b/t what we experience in our social life and the
way it is shown through the stats of the GDP. How is it that the
GDP is still increasing? This is a shortcoming of the G