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What is social inequality?

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January 11, 2011 What is social inequality? - Life is a gamble - It is impossible to determine who will win in life - The vast majority are not going to get what they want - The structure of social competition little number of winner, many losers heavy odds against most people there is not a level field - People who start life powerful, rich and famous will end their life powerful, rich and famous o People on the other end of distribution also cannot get out of their situation the lower 5- 10% cannot get out of their situation o Among the middle 80% there is a lot of social mobility - Social inequality is dangerous to society and to individual’s health - Explaining how the social ‘game’ works and the reasons why most people face heavy odds - Social inequality crime, sickness, addiction, violence, and sometime even war for society as a whole - Inequality the equality of being unequal or uneven - Inequality is about hierarchical differences between any two people or things o A and B, A is bigger, B is smaller o Measurable difference of size wide distribution - Sociology: social organization there are different way of organization, some are better than others o What can we do about social inequality, so we do not have the things we do not want o How can we measure inequality - The way society is organized now functions to benefit a few people at the top o How can social change be possible, if it does not benefit the powerful - Social equality can be beneficial to all people - There are natural inequalities aptitude and skills predispose some people to success o We know this by looking around and talking to other people o What is the difference between natural inequalities become social inequalities and which what results o How people view these natural inequalities how people explain inequalities People view inequalities as being unfair where do our ideas of fairness come from - How people invent or construct inequalities how do people justify inequalities? o Explanations are important for stabilized the structure of society o Larger because of explanations (ideologies) we’re not shooting rich people on the street and taking away their money o What is the role of ideologies that makes people compliant with inequalities - Consider for example the staging or performance of inequalities in connection with physical beauty o Why do some societies reward female beauty more than intelligence? What are the consequences of being plain versus being beautiful? What are the unwelcomed consequences of being plain looking? The explain the creation, performance and preservation of social inequalities, we need to develop some sociological concepts • There concepts are useful and useable in discussion of inequalities • Different kings of inequalities work the same o For example, concepts which will help us understand racism will help us understand sexism o There are various disadvantages, and if they are add together it is worse having two disadvantages than having one or the other - Consistent status: someone who is beautiful and smart - Inconsistent status: someone who is beautiful but stupid o What happened when there is inconsistent status People whose statuses are inconsistent are more likely to be radical in political matters and thus try to change the social order - There can be empirical research made on inequality o But, sometimes people simple reflect on this they do not like o In this course, we will consider popular views about inequality o Statements about inequality can be tested and proven true or false, with empirical evidence o We also consider opinions which cannot be readily tests with research - Is inequality inevitable? o JFK said there is always inequality, some men are killed in the war, some are wounded, other never leave, life is unfair o There is no greater inequality than equal treatment of unequal’s o Because people are different, and we treat them the same, their end position would be unequal - Distinction between objective and subjective social problems o Objective inequality which is completely measurable and there is no evaluative judgment in it these facts are verifiable o Subjective people’s beliefs and their evaluations of inequality how people feel about inequalities and how people feel about their own status in society subjective experience of inequality o Both subjective and objective have consequences for people’s lives - Thomas Malthus Essay on population - Jean Jacque Rousseau o Why should we care about social inequality? o Discusses the difference between natural and social inequality o Society provides privileges to certain people these are written into law they make advantages and disadvantages in expense of others o Society not nature gives some people more privilege o Does A have the right to control B? If the difference in power and difference in ability is the same, then A does have the right to control B comparing them on being wise and intelligent o Rousseau’s ideas central to the French Revolution and then the Russian Revolution He is saying we all know when socially unequal privileges have gone too far o Modern people no longer hold natural laws as self evident and as important there are no longer principles which are as self evident o But there is a feeling of not feeling right of an idiot leading a country something feel unfair o Procedural justice test: same procedures for everyone or we would feel the procedures were not fair equality: treating
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