Soc 102 H1, lecture 1: Inequality- A Real or Imaginary Problem?

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8 Feb 2011

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Lecture 1: Inequality: A Real or Imaginary Problem?
There is no level playing field. People who start out well end out well and vice versa.
Sociology: the study of social organization. And the better and worse ways of organizing
people. How could you rearrange things? How could you tell if it was working?
how the social game works and what creates the odds
Inequality: hierarchal differences between people.
Not only unfair, but also harmful to health, and dangerous to societies.
Social Inequality: crime, addiction, sickness, violence, war.
A wide distribution between upper and lower classes.
Natural inequalities: predisposed attributes. Size, intelligence, beauty.
How do these natural inequalities translate towards social inequalities?
How do people construct (unnatural) inequalities?
Ie. Beauty translating into power, wealth, fame? Dramatizing natural inequalities.
Natural inequalities can lead to resentment; idea of unfairness. Where do you draw the line
between fair and unfair? How do people justify inequality? Theories, political ideologies,
common sense justifications for it. It is largely because of these justifications that cause
stability in society- that create a mindset that makes people compliant with inequality.
Physical beauty:
Some societies reward beauty- especially in women- more so than intelligence. What is the
consequence of this?
What are the consequences of looking plain?
Sociological Concepts:
Key processes and how they create inequality in different domains of life.
Various levels of disadvantage, allowing varying disadvantages to compile and build up.
Gerhard Lenski: status consistency.
Example: beautiful and smart = consistent stasis.
Vs beautiful and stupid or plainlooking and smart. What happens when status' are
inconsistent? Lot's of money no power. Lot's of fame, no money. Theory?: more likely to be
radical and attempt to disrupt the system.
Is it inevitable?
"There is no greater inequality than the equal treatment of unequals" ?
"Because people are very different it follows that if we treat them equally the result will be
consistent to their original comparison."
Objective and subjective inequality.
Objective: completely measureable, empirically verifiable.
Subjective: peoples beliefs and evaluations of inequality.
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