Lecture 2 - Class Inequality
Longest history in sociology; some = most consequential is CLASS INEQUALITY.
It's about the rich and poor, and the power that comes with the inequality
Rich is more powerful than the poor, this is an extremely important consequence
Only a fraction is due to discrimination, but more so economic difference inequalities affects society
Class is an elusive concept.
Despite 200 years of conversation, there is disagreement about the boundaries of class.
Majority of North Americans say they are middle class.
European society is much more likely to be aristocratic and acknowledging upper class
Class is an economic relationship.
Two of the big players are Max Weber and Karl Marx. Both gave definitions of class that are fairly
Weber: Class is due to their circumstances, we are engaged in economic enterprises in competition
(ie. Labour market) and some compete more successfully. It is our advantage or disadvantages in
relation to others
Marx: It is about the bargaining power, competitive power-advantages you have as a competitor
Marketability and Dominance
Market situation is relative economic position--the income, job security, opportunity for
Work situation is determined by whether you are the boss or subordinate (at work)
How Related to Class Consciousness
Lockwood: Europeans have a conception of status as a concept of class, by which the position of the
individual is in a hierarchy (prestige--attention, kindness, respect) in society
To explain class consciousness, one must introduce all 3 (market, work, and status) relationships
Class is like a seat, that can lead to class warfare
Class consciousness is an important concept
Class inequality is different from other inequalities we discuss…
Is essential to inequality study
Social classes are subjective, not physically able to distinguish
Though there are natural differences between people, the interest to sociologists is the role
inequality plays in relationships, how it is brought about, what it means to others.
People learn class distinctions; learn what middle-class, upper class, lower class, etc. look like >>
must be learnt
Strategies of resistance are hard to create as they require a shared consciousness of an advantage
Signifying Class Distinctions
We are all complicit in reproducing/reinforcing class everyday
Produced by economic relations Given that people are in diff positions in t