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Lecture 8

SOC101Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Cultural Capital, Social Capital, Deskilling

Course Code
Christian O.Caron

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Sociology Lecture #8 — Class, Work, and the Economy
Universe of Obligation
Recognition of the sanctity of human life is a prerequisite to moral action
We extend this universe of obligation to family, friends, romantic partners
Not all of the population extend this universe of obligation to people they’re less
connected to
History of 20th century has seen the call for the exclusion of whole categories of
population - classes, nations, race, religions: from the universe of obligation
Within our universe of obligation, other people’s needs, their welfare, ill health and
dreariness of daily life constitute a challenge and an admonition to all other members
of the same universe of obligation
Income Inequality in Canada
Economic prosperity has made Canada one of the best countries in the world to
live in
But for the past quarter of a century, income inequality has been increasing
Despite working harder and longer, families’ incomes have not grown proportionately
Income is the economic gain derived from wages, salaries, income transfers and
ownership of property
Wealth includes property as well as other assets like money in bank accounts,
insurance policies, corporate stocks, bonds, etc.
Average Canadian income: $49,000
Median Canadian income: $32,000
Explanations of Income Inequality
Factors in economic success: (1) Degree of natural talent, (2) Degree of effort, (3)
Level of education, (4) Social capital — people’s networks or connections, and (5)
Cultural capital — all of the skills that you’ve developed through your life or more that
increase your chance of securing a superior job
Explaining Poverty
It is difficult to determine the degree of poverty in Canada because there is no official
Low income cutoff: if more than 63% of gross income is spent on food, shelter and
clothing (bare necessities) [intense debate over the use of this]
Debate: should the definition be set in absolute or relative terms? (It is more
expensive in Toronto to live, should there be a relative cutoff for Toronto than the
Should it be defined on how much money you make (income) or how much you can
afford? (consumption)
Defining Poverty
Definitions have political consequences because of ability to influence policy-makers,
too much baggage
Politics reshape distribution of income by enacting legislation and entitling people to
welfare benefits, redistributing income through tax policies
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