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Lecture 1

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University of Toronto St. George

January 11 Lecture #1 SOC102 Introduction to Sociology What is social inequality? - life is not a matter of chance, but rather a game of skill and cunning o sociology is dedicated to explaining how this social game works and the reasons most people face heavy odds - social inequality means crime, sickness, addiction, violence and sometimes even war for society as a whole - 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 - our personal experience also tells us there are many natural inequalities between people o we know that simply by looking around us and talking to other people o 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 o 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? - to explain the creation, performance, and preservation of social inequalities, we need to develop some sociological concepts - a number of social characteristics for example, class, gender, race, and age significantly affect peoples well-being o social inequalities have various sources, including the economy, the state, religion and popular culture o intersectionality makes it hard to predict the effects of inequality simply adding together individual disadvantages - each type of woman will have a different experience around discrimination in the workplace or in respect to domestic violence, for example - sociologist Gerhard Lenski also showed that status consistency matters o consistent: pretty and smart; lot of money and fame o inconsistent: pretty and stupid, plain and smart, lots of money and no fame *inconsistent people: more likely to be politically radical? (idea proposed, but not proven) - status consistent has consequences for social action that we cannot predict from the so-called dimensions of status alone - intersectionality also means that people in disadvantages social conditions (e.g. women, racial minorities, or poor people) may find it hard to share a common identity and band together for political action
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