January 16, 2012
Last class review:
INEQUALITY (Last class) 7 points in intro to inequality
1. French peasants before the Revolution
2. French lords before the Revolution
3. Inequality is a social fact
4. Some main forms of inequality
5. Some main sources of inequality
6. Inequality in pre-modern societies
a. Hunter gatherer
c. Early states
7. From peasants to proletarians: Marx on work conditions in industrial Britain
a. About inequality in early states.
b. Focused on nature of class in these societies. What was neglected was question of gender relations. The
position of women was relatively favourable, in comparison with ancient Rome or China
c. Ancient Egypt was in class terms of highly unequal society. There was a statum with a pharaoh, with
military and religious elites, ad below them a a general level of society PROPERTY OWNERS . the rest of
society was those that worked the land of others but were NOT property owners
d. Setting that aside, if we look at gender, ancient Egypt was unusual in that there were no forced marriages ,
women would keep her property separate from husbands for herself.
e. In a way in ancient rome, woman had economic, legal status of ____
f. Before woman was married, her guardian was father. When married she wasn't seen as adult, her new
guardian was her husband. In roman household, the authority of husband in house was absolute (over
children, wife uncontested). And only male was a citizen in imperial rome not female
g. This contrasts with Egypt
h. Imperial China
i. Marriage was arranged - no choice
ii. Confucian ideology, woman always subordinate to female in household (to husband, brother,
iii. Process of footbinding among elites not in peasant class though
- Last week, what we did was read historical counts and talk about what it was like to be a peasant, esp in time of
hardship. We also read other passages which taught the other privileges that were enjoyed by a lord. We were
talking about a feudal society
- But socio really emerges out of TWO revolutions
o French revolution ends feudalism in France
o Industrial revolution ends (slowly) the old, agrarian based way of life
- so what does inequality like in this pre-revolutionary society> what was it like during the industrial revolution?
- To point this out, we will read from marx
o Conditions at a Lucifers match factory child labour, etc.
o Poor working conditions in factories. No laws regulated how much air was in factories suffocated workers
- Main point in transition from feudalism to industrial age inequality does not disappear
- ** often in order to make sense of the presence, we grasp straws, as in we try to make sense of the present or whats
to come, in terms of past experience
o marx is writing in the 1850s in Europe where theres a growing working class, which are asking themselves
will these conditions persist
o there is also a emerging bourgeoisie, who is asking, will these people rise up and overthrow the system?
Today this is known as the Social Question, aka how to avoid social war, revolution, under conditions or
o people under new conditions often look to past to have understanding of whats going on.
- Communist manifesto
o Prof thesis Marx in trying to figure out what lay beyond capitalism looked back to French Revolution . In
same way that the peasantry overthrew the system , Marx thought a similar revolution would overthrow
o By juxtaposing these two conditions, how can a social thinker draw parallels to class exploitation in
- a simple point to be made
- he is talking about STATUS and how differences in social states affect mores (the customs by which people interact).
He is contastic diff societies where different statuses are greater. In USA the diff in status is narrow, whereas in
French aristocracy its bigger and more fixed. He also talks about England, where there are wide differences of
status, and a society of turmoil (hence when people meet each other, there is lack of trust and the 2 men are scared
of each other)
- main point: variation in status in societies affects relations in social mores
- question does status even matter?
o Think of description of starving peasants. For peasant wanting to put food in ones belly is a preoccupation,
isnt it q question of priorities?
o Would the question of class, economic inequality be much more weighty than that of status when it comes
o Maybe status matters because they are intricately related to class. If this claim is correct, then we cant talk
about status or class without talking about the other.
o Prof there is some correlation but its not iron clad. There is a difference
Because the best paid professions arent thought of as the most prestigious (explained a chart)
- Social Honour: having a lot of power and money doesn't mean you have a lot of social honour
o Ex lawyers not seen that well by a lot of people
o Social honour isnt just with jobs also with stuff like religious groups (ex you can be part of a stigmatized
religion but still be rich), race, being from a part of the world, political beliefs (can be stigmatized and have
bad social honour).
o So status/prestige isnt social position
- How is status manifested? In Toronto in 2012? How can you tell who has high/low status?
o Expensive car, house, jewelry, etc denote status but also require money
o Are there certain things that don't require money?
o Educational degree can be a sign of status.
o Medals can be a sign of honour, prestige or status