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SOCA01H3 Study Guide - Wilbert E. Moore, Kingsley Davis

11 pages28 viewsFall 2008

Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOCA01H3
Professor
Sheldon Ungar

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2008
Stratification 1 t Brym Chapter 8 p. 227-259
Patterns of Social Inequality
Economic Inequality in Canada
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o People selling body parts are almost invariably poor, people buying them are
invariably rich
o poor people suffer illnesses that could be cured by organ transplantation, but
majority of them are donors anyway - less likely to be offered transplants
Materialism: the attempt to satisfy needs by buying products or experiences
Purchasing power of families rose because economic productivity enhanced by
improvements in Á}l[l]oovZv}o}PÇÀvuv
o Recently avg earnings are increasing at a slower rate t demand for reduced
taxes an issue
Quintile: aka groups
Economic prosperity and materialism are not equally shared
A bunch of stats are listed following, but main idea is that rich people are getting more,
poor are getting less income (before taxes though)
After tax income did not change as much too t rich people had slightly lower income
and the others rose modestly, but the poor did not show the greatest rise in income
During last decades, redistributive efforts declined t poor had lowest after tax income in
2002, rich showed increase in after tax income
Explanations of Income Inequality
The job a person holds plays a large role in the distribution of income
Some people earn unusually high salaries b/c they have natural talent at activities that
are widely admired, also equipped with unusual determination and hard work
Rewards follow only when talent and effort are refined into a particular skill
o Who can do that depends on their learning environment
o Many skills are relative, need recognition and encouragement for development
Success at education is the key to acquiring economically valued skills
Occupational structure moving to a more mature knowledge-driven economy
Individuals must supply talent and effort to accumulate human capital (useful
knowledge and skills) but also depends on those their families accumulated
Human Capital Theory
Stresses increasing centrality of education as a factor affecting economic success
Better-educated workers are more skilled and productive in these jobs t made
investments in acquiring knowledge
o However, ppl with the same human capital can receive different rewards
Reason: they possess different amounts of social capital ~(}}o[vÁ}l}
connections) to help them attain opportunities
A related version is the idea of cultural capital (set of social skills people have, ability to
impress others, use language and images effectively and to influence and persuade
people)
Families higher in the social hierarchy enjoy more capital of all types
Connections and culture get you the job / influence who gets an interview
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2008
Natural Talent = Rewards
Natural Talent + Effort = Rewards
Natural Talent + Effort + Skill-rich Environment + Developed Skills = Rewards
Natural Talent + Effort + Skill-rich Environment + Developed Skills + Social and Cultural Capital = Rewards
Income versus Wealth
Opportunism, business acumen and family fortune key determinants of wealth
toZ]vµo]Ç]vZ]vv(}u[õð-õ
Only a modest correlation exists between income and wealth
o Some wealthy people have low annual incomes
o Some people with high incomes have little accumulated wealth
o dZ(}]v}uuÇv}uµ}(}u}v[Áoo]vP
Income and Poverty
Homeless one manifestation of poverty
Poverty lacks an agreed definition
Should it be defined absolutely or relatively?
o Absolutelyt inadequate to acquire basic necessities of life
y Zv]o[v}vÀoµviµPuv
y this depends on the social context
Eg. Poverty in Ethiopia vs Canada
y voZ]vP]v]Ç]vv[}od climate but not Ethiopia
o Relatively t 2 questions are central: relative to what and how relative?
y Defined more narrowly in term of economic measures (income) or more
broadly with respect to community standards (safety of working
conditions)
y If defined narrowly, how relative should it be? One-third of average
income, one-half etc..
Should it be defined on the basis of income or consumption?
o Since bare essentials core idea, makes good sense to ask about and measure
poverty as the cost of purchasing bare essentials
o Deprivation occurs when people cannot acquire essentials not necessarily when
income is too low
o Income + consumption are correlated
In one sense, definition of poverty applies little to a homeless man sleeping on top of a
hot air vent vs those in the immediate experience of poverty (ie single parents) because
social policies are enacted (acted out) or not based on levels and trends in poverty so
the definition of poverty applies to them
Social policy has a profound impact on distribution of opportunities and rewards in
Canada
o They can reshape distribution of income and the system of inequality through
tax policies and welfare benefits
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/('}À[µ}]vPZ}}vZ]P}Á]vPu}µnt of them = beneficial to their
cause
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2008
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participate in national affairs
Statistics Canada reports a low-income cutoff t income threshold below which a family
will likely put most of their income in necessities of food, shelter and clothing more than
an average family would
Myths about the Poor
1. W}o}}µZÇ}v[Áv}Á}l:
o At least 1 member works in poor families
o Many families poor despite having a job because individuals working a minimum
wage job produces annual incomes below the low-income cutoff for single
individuals
2. The overwhelming majority of poor people are immigrants
o Early immigrants generally experience lower rates of poverty
o Recent immigrants have higher poverty rates but account for a fraction of all
poor people
3. The welfare rolls are crammed with young people who should be earning a living
o Report shows that a small percent of people on welfare were under 25
4. Most poor people are trapped in poverty
o Poverty for many is a result of family finances that are unstable and slip in and
out of difficult circumstances
Explaining Poverty
Poverty is a social construction t who is poor depends on the definition and the
explanations focus on definitions
Politics of Poverty - Levels and trends can simply be a consequence of definition
Acceptance of the fact that Canadians are poor raises another question:
o Why are some people and families poor and others not?
o Individual level explanations and structural explanations
Individual Explanations
Poverty not a consequence of physical attributes even though important in some cases
o Ppl with physical disabilities have higher risk of living poverty however not all of
them do, and most ppl in poverty do not have disabilities
Related form of explanation focuses more on attitudes of individuals
o Not attributes are inherited but on attributes that are acquired
o Socio-psychological explanation emphasizes low self-esteem, lack of
achievement motivation and inability to delay gratification
o On this logic, poverty is continued since these families pass it on to their kids
enhancing bad attitudes
o Zµoµ}(}ÀÇ[]ÁÇ}(Z]vking and acting share among poor families
BUT ...
dZ]Æov]}v}(v]u]Ç}]}o}P]Zou]vPZÀ]]u[
o ^z}µ}}lÇ}µZÀ}}Á}lZ]Uv}]]o]vXX_
o There is a cause-and-effect problem
y People who are poor may devel}Z]µ[µZuÇµo
from poverty and not be the causes of it
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