Status set: a term used to describe all the statuses that a person occupies at a given time
Master status: a term used to describe the most important statuses a person occupies
Social institution: a set of organized beliefs and rules that establish how a society will attempt to
meet its basic social needs
Common Sense Belief about Inequality:
• Anyone can achieve material success if they work hard enough
• Everyone has the same opportunity to get ahead
• If you are not successful it is a result of personal failing
• Getting ahead is based on individual merit, which is generally viewed as a combination of
factors including innate abilities, working hard, having the right attitude, and having high
moral character and integrity
The Myth of Meriotcracy:
• Great many factors that impact on a person’s ability to succeed
• Ascribed statuses play a large role in the opportunities and barriers that people face (the
deck is stacked)
• There are structural, not individual!
• Our ascribed statuses impact on our achieved statuses
• The way in which society is organized into predictable relationships, patterns of social
• Social structure shapes the distribution of inequality
• A system by which a society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy (based on property,
prestige, and power)
Principles of Social Stratification
• Five principles:
1. It’s social, not “natural.”
2. It’s persistent, even as societies change.
3. It’s omnipresent in nearly all complex societies.
4. It’s supported by ideology.
5. It’s micro- as well as a macro-level.
• The long term existence of significant differences in access to goods and services among
• Differences in wealth, prestige and power
Dimensions of Social Inequality
• Social class
• Ethnicity • Religion
• Sexual identity
Social inequality results in and from the prejudice, discrimination, and oppression of certain
people and groups
• Arbitrary attitudes or beliefs and unfair bias towards or against a person/group.
• Based on little or no experience and projected onto entire group.
• Prejudice is an individual’s internal perspective.
• Action based on prejudice. Excluding, ignoring, avoiding, threatening, ridiculing, jokes,
slurs, violence, unfair treatment.
• Discrimination is an individual’s external behavior
• Embedded in institutions such as: media, family, religion, education, language,
economics, criminal justice and in cultural definitions of what is normal, real, correct,
beautiful and valuable.
• Socially sanctioned and maintains an imbalance of power
Impacts of Social Inequality
• Micro and Macro Consequences including:
– Quality of life
– Political unrest
• The relative location of a person or group within a larger society, based on wealth, power,
prestige, or other valued resources
• In a class system people can move ‘up’ (or ‘down’), but it is heavily dependent on family
and ascribed factors (i.e. race and gender)
Impact of Class Position:
• Class at birth affects life chances: ability to fulfill one’s potential
• Persons in the same class more likely to associate with each other, intermarry, have
similar hobbies, tastes, political views
Variables of Social Class
– The degree to which a person can control other people
– Objects or symbols owned by people which have value attached to them
• Prestige – The degree of respect, favourable regard, or importance accorded to a person by
members of society
Types of Resources:
• influence our likelihood for social mobility
2. Social (prestige, connections, social networks)
3. Cultural (derived from education, knowledge, skills, personal advantage)
Whats the big deal?
• Multiple intersections of inequality impact each other.
• Those who occupy a lower socio-economic position have barriers to education, networks,
skills etc. (social and cultural capital) that would facilitate upward social mobility.
• Gap between the rich and the poor
• Wealth: “net worth”
– The sum total of assets minus liabilities.
– Is often inherited
• Unequal distribution of assets within a population.
• Growing faster than ever before
Class Inequalities and Health:
• More wealth, more health
• Less wealth, less health
Consequence of Inequality
• Impact on children
– Long-term societal consequences
• Political instability
– Occupy Wall Street
Consequences of Child Poverty
• Poor Children Are:
• More likely to experience a host of immediate and long-term health negative outcomes
• Less likely to live in safe neighbourhoods
• At disproportionate risk of exposure to environmental contaminants
• Have problems concentrating and learning
• The Global Economy
• Colonialism • Neo-Colonialism
• Global Capitalism
• Race to the bottom
• Global Stratification of Health Care
• Maternal Mortality
Wealth and Poverty in Global perspective
• Global Stratification: the unequal distribution of wealth, power, and prestige on a global
• The gap between the rich and the poor worldwide is growing
Define Global inequality
• There has been a debate over the best way to define global inequality, since these
definitions imply judgments about countries, particularly those with low incomes.
The Levels of Development Approach
• There are several ways of describing global inequality.
• Terminology based on levels of development includes concepts such as developed
nations, developing nations, less developed nations, and underdevelopment