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Social Inequality

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University of Toronto St. George

Lecture 1 What is social inequality? Sociology 102 Social Inequality Tuesdays 6-8, fall term Class Topic Readings Sept 13 Inequality: A real or imaginary problem? SP 1 20 Racialization: Race and ethnic inequalities SP 3/SS 5 27 Domination: Gender inequalities SP 4/SS Oct 4 Exploitation: Class inequalities SP 2/SS 6 11 TEST #1 18 Exclusion: Age relations and ageism SP 6/SS 4 25 Victimization: Neighbourhoods and sexualitieSP 5, 14 Nov 1 Colonization: Regional and national inequaliSS 7 8 Fall Break --- No Classes 15 Stigmatization: Consequences for health SP 8, 9 22TEST #2 29 Punishment: Consequences for crime SP 7 Dec 6 Destruction: Consequences for politics SP 10/SS 12 Assigned readings: Tepperman, Lorne, The Sense of Sociability (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2010) .(SS) Tepperman, Lorne and Josh Curtis, Social Problems, 3rd edition (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2011) (SP) Grading Scheme: Two term tests (25% each)..50% Final examination..50% Life is a stacked deck Life is a gamble everybody knows that. In that sense, this course is also about heavy odds the chances against most people winning. People who start life rich, powerful or famous are more likely to finish life that way. Life is a poker game a game of skill and cunning -- played with a stacked deck Inequality: why some people always win The dictionary defines inequality as the quality of being unequal or uneven Inequality is about hierarchical (i.e., better- worse) differences between any two people (or things), A and B. Sociology is dedicated to explaining how this inequality game works and the reasons most people face heavy odds It also means showing social inequality leads to crime, sickness, addiction, violence and sometimes even war for society as a whole. Natural inequalities Our personal experience tells us there are many natural inequalities between people We know that simply by looking around us and talking to other people. The question for sociologists is, how do these natural inequalities become social inequalities, and with what results? Finally, sociologists are interested in how people invent or construct (unnatural) inequalities The example of beauty Consider for example the staging or performance of inequalities in connection with physical beauty. Why do some societies reward beauty especially in women more highly than they reward, say, intelligence? Flipped around, what are the unwelcome consequences of being plain looking ? o explain the creation, performance, and preservation of social inequalities, we need to develop some sociological concepts. The intersection of inequalities In fact, the course is largely organized around understanding the key processes of inequality As we will see, a number of social characteristics for example, class, gender, race, and age significantly affect peoples well-being. Intersectionality makes it hard to predict the effects of inequality simply adding together individual disadvantages. Consider the status inconsistency of women Though women tend to have lower status woman will have a different experience of around discrimination in the workplace or in respect to domestic violence, for example. Sociologist Gerhard Lenski showed that status consistency matters.
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