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Chapter 7 Social Inequality.docx

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Ryerson University
SOC 103
Tonya Davidson

SOC103 How Society Works CHAPTER 7 Social Inequality MODULE 7.1 What Is Social Stratification? Social stratification: societys hierarchical ranking of people into social classes Social class: group of individuals sharing a common position in a social hierarchy, based on both birth and achievement Social status: individuals position within the social structure Social stratification based on key principles: 1. All societies redistribute materials and social rewards to individuals (food, money, social prestige) Society allocates its limited resources to those who offer the greatest benefit to the whole; society must believe that they can achieve wealth and status through individual attributes Meritocracy: a system of rewards based on personal attributes and demonstrate abilities 2. Social stratification transcends any single generation (social position largely granted by ones parents), meaning very few people are able to move out of the social class which they are born Social mobility: movement between social classes Intergenerational mobility: status as defined by parents social class; comparing adult childrens status to that of their parents Intragenerational mobility: status movement throughout ones life; comparing status position over their lifetime Has little relationship to skills or abilities 3. Present in all known human societies, but varies in how it expresses itself Society values material wealth but we are quick to judge someone who achieves material wealth in a manner we do not condone or respect 4. Recognize differences in wealth and prestige, but the criteria they are granted are considered fair and just by the majority of the population WHAT IS SOCIAL INEQUALITY? Social inequality results from collective decisions about what is important in evaluating a person or group Inequality results from a system that ranks people from high (better) to low (worse) on such subjective criteria as gender and minority status o Criteria considered subjective because they have no material influence on whether a person can actually perform a particular job CLASSISM Classism: ideology that suggests that peoples relative worth is at least partially determined by their social and economic status Based on the idea that everyone has a equal chance of getting ahead if they work hard and results in the belief that the wealthy deserve what they have and the poor are responsible for their failure; the American Dream (Huber and Form) find wealthy and middle class Americans saw themselves as deserving of their wealth and status because of their own abilities, skills, and effort; the poor are more likely to see their economic plight as the result of structural factors such as high unemployment rates, lack of opportunity, and failure of society to provide adequate schooling (Newman and Smith) argues that perceptions of why people succeed or fail have important policy implications for government o Classist thinking lead people to reject policies that would help the disadvantaged overcome structural factors that limit their opportunities to improve changes of upward mobility (i.e. welfare) CLOSED AND OPEN SOCIAL SYSTEMS Closed systems: social system in which status is based on ascribed attributes at birth o Caste systems: an ascribed system, always religious in character, to support and justify differences in hereditary class designationSOC103 How Society Works Persons caste is a central component of who they are and determines virtually everything in their lives, including what they wear, what jobs they can perform, and who to marry Castes will remain the same even if wealth changes o Reincarnation: belief, associated with Eastern religions, that ones essence does not die and instead is reborn in another form Depending on the life the person lead, they may move to a higher or lower caste in their next life Open system: social system in which status is based on achieved attributes o Class system: social stratification based on achieved status can change status or social rank based on their own abilities and efforts o Class structure: societys economic structure that categorizes groups of people based on their socio- economic status o Socio-economic status (SES): social status as determined by income, education level, and occupations prestige PROPERTY AND OCCUPATIONAL PRESTIGE: TWO COMPONENTS OF INEQUALITY Property is an important indicator of where one resides in class structure o Divide property into two general categories: 1. Income: money received annually from all sources; what you earn 2. Wealth: net accumulated assets; what you have Occupational prestige: the social value of a particular occupation o Income generally correlates to occupational prestige; the higher the salary, the higher the prestige o Occupations dominated by women or visible minorities tend to be poorly paid and less prestigious o Higher rated occupations generally require university education, provide a great deal of independence and autonomy, and depend on sound decision-making and abstract reasoning skills MODULE 7.2 Sociological Approaches to Social Inequality FU
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