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Lecture

SOC304H1-Lec 2

12 Pages
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Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC101Y1
Professor
Charles Jones

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(Lec2)Human Capital & The “Matthew Effect”
Conclusions
• 18th Century writers like Adam Smith talked about developing workers’ skills
as being like an investment in capital equipment but wrote about it as an
aggregate investment.
• 20th Century writers write about “human capital” as an individual’s personal
asset that can be developed through investment in education or training: though
also about aggregate benefits of concentrations of the “creative class”.
• There are also discussions about “social capital”, “cultural capital”, “erotic
capital”, etc.
• Do some kids get more investment in their human capital than others?
• Intersection between chronological age / maturity and socially determined
administrative cutoff dates could be important. The latter could be changed
(more entry dates per year).
• Relative maturity (probably also other early advantages) generates
opportunities for superior training and better quality deliberate practice.
• “Matthew Effect” seems to exist in the educational system: also in sport.
Family Genealogies
• Your answers for this project will be graded on the degree to which your
account of your family’s occupational genealogy incorporates sociological
concepts, especially concepts from this course. You will collect information by
speaking with family members, particularly the older ones. Other potential
sources of data are as follows. Further ideas can be obtained by using a search
engine such as Google or Safari with such terms as GENEALOGY and CANADA
and FREE.
• If you had ancestors in Canada in 1901 or 1911, you might find them in the
censuses of those years, online from Library and Archives Canada.
A rational model of what causes success.
• Rational models say that productive cities or countries get to be richer than less
productive countries.
• Likewise more productive people get higher paying jobs than less productive
people.
• People get to be more productive through practice & training:
Sometimes perhaps by inborn talent at mathematics, music, etc.
“Capital”: Material, Human, Social
Material Capital: (tools, machinery, physical plant)
Human Capital: what makes more productive use of material capital.
Social Capital: what makes more productive use of material & human capital.
(Gladwell’s introductory chapter).
• Further sub-genres include: Cultural capital, Emotional Intelligence, etc.
Human Capital
• Human Capital is what makes one person more productive than another.
Different from physical capital for which standard example is
machinery: eg a computer or a sewing machine or a lathe.
• Given several people working with the same machinery / tools some will be
more productive than others: or have been trained to be more productive.
Adam Smith on Individual Abilities and their Aggregation.
• “… the acquired and useful abilities of all the inhabitants or members of the
society. The acquisition of such talents, by the maintenance of the acquirer
during his education, study, or apprenticeship, always costs a real expense,
which is a capital fixed and realized, as it were, in his person. Those talents, as
they make a part of his fortune, so do they likewise that of the society to which
he belongs. The improved dexterity of a workman may be considered in the same
light as a machine or instrument of trade which facilitates and abridges labor,
and which, though it costs a certain expense, repays that expense with a profit.”.
• Smith, Adam: An Inquiry into the Nature And Causes of the Wealth of Nations
Book 2 - Of the Nature, Accumulation, and Employment of Stock; Published 1776.
Erotic Capital?
• Sociologists have extended notions ofhuman capital to social capital, cultural
capital, etc. Also “Erotic capital”.
Physical attractiveness is relevant in the entertainment industries but
also correlates with success in other areas.
a. Catherine Hakim, Honey Money: the power of erotic capital. Basic Books.
2011.
b. Daniel Hamermash, Beauty Pays: why attractive people are more
successful. Princeton UP. 2011.
From an individual point of view...
• Economic capital = Cash that can be invested in machinery (eg buy computer).
• Human capital = what relevant skills you have (eg know how to use the
computer)
• Social capital = what contacts you have (eg finding out where to sell what you
produced with the computer)
• Erotic capital = beauty, self-presentation, social skills, liveliness, etc. (eg
persuasiveness getting some friend to fix your computer for you).
Human Capital, Repeated Practice, Specialization, Division of Labour
• Adam Smith & later writers such as Gary Becker argue that specialization lets
people hone a narrow set of skills through repeated practice:
• example brain surgeons don’t do heart surgery.
• Durkheim argues that the division of labour in society leads to “organic
solidarity” where people specialize & have to depend on other specialists.
Human Capital: specific vs. general
• Specific human capital refers to skills or knowledge that is useful only to a
single employer or industry
• General human capital (such as literacy, basic computer skills) is useful to all
employers.
Capital: investment & depreciation
• Thinking in terms of “capital” leads to related concepts:
Investment in capital of one kind or another (human capital, social capital etc.)
Depreciation of the asset
• For personal assets (various kinds of human or social capital) we look at how
the investment takes place and the speed at which these assets depreciate
• some skills can become irrelevant.

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Description
Lec2Human CapitalThe Matthew Effect Conclusions 18th Century writers like Adam Smith talked about developing workers skills as being like an investment in capital equipment but wrote about it as an aggregate investment20th Century writers write about human capital as an individuals personal asset that can be developed through investment in education or training though also about aggregate benefits of concentrations of the creative classThere are also discussions about social capital cultural capital erotic capital etcDo some kids get more investment in their human capital than othersIntersection between chronological agematurity and socially determined administrative cutoff dates could be important The latter could be changed more entry dates per yearRelative maturity probably also other early advantages generates opportunities for superior training and better quality deliberate practiceMatthew Effect seems to exist in the educational system also in sport Family GenealogiesYour answers for this project will be graded on the degree to which your account of your familys occupational genealogy incorporates sociological concepts especially concepts from this course You will collect information by speaking with family members particularly the older ones Other potential sources of data are as follows Further ideas can be obtained by using a search engine such as Google or Safari with such terms as GENEALOGY and CANADA and FREEIf you had ancestors in Canada in 1901 or 1911 you might find them in the censuses of those years online from Library and Archives Canada A rational model of what causes successRational models say that productive cities or countries get to be richer than less productive countriesLikewise more productive people get higher paying jobs than less productive peoplePeople get to be more productive through practicetraining Sometimes perhaps by inborn talent at mathematics music etc Capital Material Human SocialMaterial Capital tools machinery physical plantHuman Capital what makes more productive use of material capitalSocial Capital what makes more productive use of materialhuman capital Gladwells introductory chapterFurther subgenres includeCultural capital Emotional Intelligence etcHuman CapitalHuman Capital is what makes one person more productive than another Different from physical capital for which standard example is machinery eg a computer or a sewing machine or a latheGiven several people working with the same machinerytools some will be more productive than others or have been trained to be more productiveAdam Smith on Individual Abilities and their Aggregation the acquired and useful abilities of all the inhabitants or members of the society The acquisition of such talents by the maintenance of the acquirer during his education study or apprenticeship always costs a real expense which is a capital fixed and realized as it were in his person Those talents as they make a part of his fortune so do they likewise that of the society to which he belongs The improved dexterity of a workman may be considered in the same light as a machine or instrument of trade which facilitates and abridges labor and which though it costs a certain expense repays that expense with a profitSmith Adam An Inquiry into the Nature And Causes of the Wealth of Nations Book 2Of the Nature Accumulation and Employment of Stock Published 1776 Erotic CapitalSociologists have extended notions ofhuman capital to social capital cultural capital etc Also Erotic capitalPhysical attractiveness is relevant in the entertainment industries but also correlates with success in other areas a Catherine Hakim Honey Money the power of erotic capital Basic Books 2011 bDaniel Hamermash Beauty Pays why attractive people are more successful Princeton UP 2011
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