SOC203H1 Lecture Notes - Rank, The Communist Manifesto, Bad Life

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14 Mar 2013
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Inequality
1. French Peasants before the Revolution
-1789
• poor; stealing and begging became progressively violent
• unprecedented deaths
Tocqueville: French Revolution - Why was there a revolution in France
when the peasants were better off than the peasants in other European
countries?
1) felt the lords had undeserved privilege and were no longer providing good
government (social contract theory)
2) rebelled because better increased well-being heightened expectations; where
they were and where they wanted to be were not the same; dissatisfaction
2. French lords before the Revolution
• lending based on promises that resulted in loss of land or loss of valuable assets
• lord has judicial authority: economic, legal, authoritative power, religious
Inequality as a Social Fact
• suicide rates Durkheim - cannot look at the reasons why people commit suicide,
they have an independent reality
• inequality is relational, social fact
• you cannot look at an individual, it requires a relation: some people have less,
some people have more
• variation in distribution of life chances
• constancy suggests there is something about society that produces these results
3. Some main forms of inequality
-social goods - things that are valued
• some are universal (good health)
• some are culturally bound (leisure time, wealth, status, power)
Consistently, suicide rates would be higher/lower in different parts of the world
4. Some main sources of inequality
• military strength
-leisure time
• economic resources (wealth, status, power)
• political power – the ability to decide
• life chances (Weber) - looking at variation in the distribution of life chances:
opportunities to have a good or bad life; which change according to the structure of
oneʼs life
5. Life chances: opportunities to enjoy different kinds of experiences, good or bad,
based on how one’s life changes (Weber)
6. Inequality in pre-modern societies:
Hunter gatherer
• class less, no strong differences in control over means of production
not patriarchal
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Document Summary

Social goods - things that are valued: some are universal (good health, some are culturally bound (leisure time, wealth, status, power) Consistently, suicide rates would be higher/lower in different parts of the world: some main sources of inequality, military strength. Hunter gatherer: class less, no strong differences in control over means of production. Not patriarchal: gender equality, political equality, economic equality, marxist: they have little surplus; live close to subsistence level; with surplus there is a possibility that some can live without working. Started to generate surplus which means that now certain groups of people can live better while working less. Ancient egypt, rome, china: significant agricultural surplus, produced or extracted, specialized classes of rulers, reliance on bureaucracy, slavery with poorer life choices, large standing army; always available, systems of taxation, run by bureaucrats. Women in high power families were relatively powerful. Women were always subordinate to the male in confucius households.

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