Class Notes (838,337)
Canada (510,861)
Sociology (3,275)
Kim Luton (96)
Lecture 14

Sociology 1020 Lecture 14: INEQUALITY

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Sociology 1020
Kim Luton

Social Stratification Social Stratification • Social Stratification: hierarchical arrangement of social groups based on their control over basic resources • Creates persistent patterns of ‘social inequality’ perpetuated by the way in which wealth, power, & prestige are distributed and passed on from one generation to the next • Basic Principles: o A trait of society, not just individual differences o Persists over generations. Social mobility is a change in a person’s position in a hierarchy o Is universal, but variable regarding amount and type of inequality o Involves inequality and beliefs of fairness Social Mobility • The extent to which members of a society can change their socio-economic position • Horizontal Mobility: Gain or loss in position of income which does not produce change in one’s rank • Vertical Mobility: Gain or loss in position that produces a change in one’s place in the socio- economic hierarchy o Upward o Downward • Integrational Mobility: Change in social position during one person’s lifetime • Intergenerational Mobility: Upward or downward movement that takes place across generations within a family Theoretical Approaches to Social Stratification Functionalism: Functions of Social Stratification • Meritocracy: system of stratification based on personal merit • Society rewards jobs differently: the more “important,” the greater the reward • Critique: o Do rewards reflect importance to society? o How is importance measured? o How is this system maintained? Conflict Theory: Stratification and Conflict • Social Reproduction: Born into a class = die in class • Marx was concerned with poverty amid riches o Capitalists own and operate businesses o Proletariat sell labor for wages Social Reproduction • Capitalist society reproduces class structure in each new generation • Private property: the basis of the division of society into classes • Economy: basis of class systems Marxism Today • Wealth is still concentrated • White-collar jobs are considered to be the new factory-like position • Workers still struggle • Rich still use legal system for their benefit • Critical Evaluation: o Severing rewards from work causes low productivity o No revolution occurred in advanced capitalist societies Weber’s Approach: Symbolic Interactionism: Class, Status, and Power • Many classes – defined class differently than Marx: o “A plurality of people who share a similar market position or set of opportunities to gain wealth and power.” • Life Chances: *4 years difference between highest and lowest quintile for age of death after a heart attack • Socioeconomic Status: composite ranking based on several dimensions of social inequality • Dimensions: o Wealth o Prestige (status) o Power • Status consistency • Status inconsistency Social Class in Canada • Income: indicator of success, wealth, power, and standard of living • Inequalities in income mean: o Different lifestyles o Different life experiences o Different life chances • The upper class: inherit or “new rich” entrepreneurs o 3% of the population • The middle class: professionals to service people o 37% of the population • The working class: blue-collar jobs o 40% of the population • The lower class: temporary, low prestige jobs o 20% of the population Ascription and Social Stratification • Ancestry: most of the rich gain their position through inheritance • Gender: women earn less income, accumulate less wealth, and have lower occupational prestige • Ethnicity: higher average incomes for British and French vs. Asian, Black, and Native Who Earns What? • To measure income inequality divide population into 5 equal groups – “Quintiles” What Class Are You (Parents)? 1. Quintile 1 Lowest 2. Quintile 2 Second 3. Quintile 3 Middle 4. Quintile 3 Fourth 5. Quintile 5 Highest Quintiles • The highest quintile has 40% of all income, where the lowest has 7.1% • 4% earn over 1 million • 36% of ethnic groups in Canada are in the lowest quintile o Are overrepresented o Aboriginals have less income than 2/3 of the Canadian population • Standard of living maintained in middle class for 3 main characteristics: everyone in household works, working long hours, credit cards are maxed out • Income to debt ratio is 1.63. So for every dollar, we owe $1.63 • 77% of lowest income quintile’s income is going to basics (necessities) • Poverty is a measurable burden – it is a burden on the brain o Our ability to focus – ‘mental bandwidth’ of hurdles you can’t overcome in lowest percent (you can’t put off burdens like car expenses, etc.) o Cost of ‘getting by’ vs. enjoying life in Canada is between $30-$40,000 a year Assets (Wealth) in Canada • The bottom 10% of the population has no assets and have considerable debt… and the top 10% own 53.2% of the nation’s wealth • The net average wealth is very high– this is why we don’t look at averages o We look at medians (half are above and half are below) • The top 1% earn 10.6% of Canadian’s total income – median income being $283,000 o Average is $430,000 o 67% have university degrees vs. the 21% in all of society o More than 50% have degrees in business, health, and engineering o Most people stay in 1% once they get there – “the rich get richer” Poverty in Canada • Absolute Poverty: deprivation of resources that is life-threatening o People do not have the means to provide basic resources (food, clothing, and shelter) • Relative Poverty: deprivation in relation to average standard of living o Able to afford basics but unable to have average standard of living Extent of Canadian Poverty • Extent of poverty is measured by low-income cut-off (LICO) o They never use the word poverty – instead use LICO o 64% of pre-tax income for food, shelter, and clothing, varying by size of community: o 3.2 million Canadians (1/10) were poor in 2009 • Depth of poverty – average amount of money below LICO line (poverty line) • Poverty rate is
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