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What Is Social Inequality

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SOC 102
January 11, 2011
What is Social Inequality
course is about structure of inequality in life
- competition, some people at top and likely to stay there, some at bottom, hard to
- stacked deck from beginning of life
- social mobility in middle 80%, middle class
why normal people against heavy odds
- consequences of social inequality
- social inequality dangerous for health
sociology - study of social organization
- which type of social organization fits us best
- social inequality related to crime, abuse, addiction, mental instability, etc
- what can we do about it? how can we measure inequality? how do some societies do
inequality about hierarchical differences between two people
- can be natural inqualities between people
- ie taller, smarter, attractiveness, etc
- how do natural inequalities become social inequalities?
- are all inequalities unfair?
- how do we create inequalities?
- how do we treat people with inequalities?
- what is the role of ideology, religion, mass media in inequality
- why such a significance on it?
- why some societies view it above intelligence?
each inequality and generalization is quite similar, if understand one, can understand most
disadvantages can compound, if dumb + plain looking, more disadvantaged than just one
status inconsistencies
- consistent -> beautiful and smart
- inconsistent -> beautiful and dumb, smart and plain
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- inconsistent more likely to be political radical, active
life is unfair - jfk
"there is no greater inequality than the equal treatment of unequals"
- people are different so must treat differently for them to be equals
can test statements with empirical testing
can test opinions as well
Thomas Malthus
Jean Jacques Rousseau
- first to make theories about social inequalities
- difference between social and natural inequality
- social inequality must be proportional to be right
- difference in power must be proportional to intelligence, wisdom, beauty, etc
- French Revolution from too high inequality
- natural law not as significant anymore
- doesnt make sense to have dumb people command smart people
- innate sense of fairness?
- innate sense of procedural justice
- grading = fair
- someone has advantage then we perceive unfairness
- not same treatment can make something more fair
- ie blind person, ADD person getting special treatment
we expect society to be fair or we feel outraged
- constant feature of the human condition
- according to economic liberals - inequality price for dynamic economic growth
under capitalism
- cognitive ability in education, universities dont truly have equality of education
- would have to give some people more time if it was
is it inevitable that life is unfair?
- an equal society wouldnt work, so inequality is needed
is unfairness inevitable?
- to what degree is unfairness existing/needed?
communism - failed -> equal treatment of all
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