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Canada (509,856)
York University (35,328)
Sociology (802)
SOCI 1010 (242)
Jan Hill (2)


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SOCI 1010
Jan Hill

SOCIAL STRATIFICATION IN CANADA- feb 14 2013 Social Stratification Social stratification: the hierarchal arrangement of large social groups based on their control over basic resources - involves patterns of structural inequality that are associated with membership in each of these groups - Max Weber’s term life chances: the extent to which individuals have access to important societal resources, such as food, clothes, shelter, education and health care - resources are anything valued in a society Systems of Stratification - in an open system, the boundaries between levels in the hierarchies are more flexible and may be influenced by people’s achieved status - assumed to have some degree of social mobility: the movement of individuals or groups from one level in a stratification system to another (intergenerational: social movement experienced by family members from one generation to the next, and intragenerational: social movement of individuals within their own lifetime) - in a closed system, the boundaries between levels in the hierarchies of social stratification are rigid, and people’s positions are set by their ascribed status (born with) - we will study 3 systems of stratification: slavery, the caste system, and classes Slavery - an extreme form of stratification in which some people are owned by others - it is a closed system - as practiced in North America, slavery had four primary characteristics 1. it was for life, and was inherited 2. slaves were considered property, not human beings 3. slaves were denied rights 4. coercion was used to keep slaves ‘in their place’ The Caste System - a system of social inequality in which people’s status is permanently determined at birth based don their parent’s ascribed status - exists in modern day India (based in part on occupation) and South Africa (racial) - marriage is endogamous, meaning that people are only able to marry within their ‘caste’ or group - cultural beliefs and values sustain caste systems - caste systems grow weaker as societies industrialize The Class System - a type of stratification based on the ownership and control of resources, and on the type of work people do - status comes partially through achievement, rather than fully by the ascribed status - people may become members of other classes through both intergenerational and intragenerational mobility - ascribed statues also affect people’s social mobility, such as race, gender and religion - recall ascribed status from diversity  the social status of an individual that is determined at birth or involuntarily later in life Inequality in Canada Income Inequality Income: the economic gain derived from wages, salaries, income transfers and ownership of property - the average family income of the three lowest income groups has declined in the past decade, while that of the two highest income groups continues to increase - there is regional variation across Canada (NWT highest, NFLD lowest) - there is also significant income variation among particular racial/ethnic groups Wealth inequality Wealth: property + assets - research on the distribution of wealth in Canada reveals that wealth is more unevenly distributed among the Canadian population than income is Classical Perspectives on Social Class - both Marx and Weber viewed class as an important determinant of social inequality and social change Karl Marx: Relation of Means of Production - class position is determined by people’s work situation, or relationship to the means of production - recall: society comprises of the bourgeoisie (owners of the means of production) and proletariat (those who must sell their labour to the owners in order to earn enough money to survive) - class relationships involve inequality and exploitation - the exploitation of workers (that occurs when the capitalists maximize their profits) creates alienation: a feeling of powerlessness and estrangement from other people and oneself - Marx predicted that the exploitation of workers would ultimately lead to class conflict: the struggle between the capitalist class and the working class - Marx had a number of important insights into capitalist societies; 1. he recognized the economic basis of class systems 2. he noted the relationship between people’s locations in the class structure and their values, beliefs and behaviours 3. he acknowledged that classes may have opposing interests Max Weber: Wealth, Prestige and Power - agreed with Marx’s assertion that economic factors are important in understanding individual and group behaviour - also emphasized that no one factor was sufficient for defining people’s location within the class structure - the access that people have to important society resources (economic, social and political power) is crucial in determining peoples life chances: the extent to which individuals have access to important societal resources, such as food, clothes, shelter, education and health care - Weber placed people who have a similar level of income in the same class (entrepreneurs, rentiers the middle class and the working class) - the second dimension of Weber’s system of social stratification is prestige: the respect with which a person or status position is regarded by others (fame, respect, honour and esteem) - a person who has a high level of prestige is assumed to receive deferential and respectful treatment from others - the other dimension of Weber’s system is power: the ability of people or groups to achieve their goals despite opposition from others - the powerful shape society in accordance with their own interests and direct the actions of others - social power in modern societies is held by bureaucracies: individual power depends on a person’s position within the bureaucracies socioeconomic status: a sociological term used to refer a combined measure that attempted to classify individuals, families, or households in terms of factors such as income, occupation and education to determine class location Poverty in Canada - the most accepted and commonly used definition of poverty is the StatsCan before-tax low-income cutoff: the income le
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