Compass Strat notes

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4 Dec 2010
Stratification Sociology
Chapter 8: Stratification notes (Compass)
Patterns of Inequality
Shipwrecks and Inequality:
x Shipwrecks= literary devices used by writers and filmmakers to emphasise points on social
x Daniel Defoe Æ Robinson Crusoe (1719)
o One of the first writes to portray work ethic of capitalism favourably.
o Believed people get rich if they possess the virtues of good business ppl and stay poor if
x Swept Away (1974) Opposite View
o Do not have to work hard to be rich Æ can inherit $
o ,Á}l}v[oÁÇulÇ}µ]Z
o Something about the structure of society causes inequality
o Inequality has many interrelated dimensions (class, sex, race) and different contexts
highlight diff conditions of power and exploitation
x Titanic = American perspective:
o At one level: Class levels are impt. (ex: 1st class vs. 3rd class living conditions)
Priority goes to 1st class people for few available lifeboats
o Young lovers cross class divisions for love
Focus Questions:
1) What are the sources of social inequality?
2) Do determination, industry, and ingenuity shape the distribution of advantages and
disadvantages in society?
3) Do certain patterns of social relations underlie and shape that distribution?
4) Does social inequality still have big consequences for the way we live?
5) Can people overcome or reduce inequality in society? If so, how?
Economic Inequality in Canada:
x Organ donation:
o Global organ shortage has encouraged sale of organs especially in India
o People selling body parts = poor (even in Canada) & people buying body parts= rich
o BUT, poor people are more likely to suffer illnesses and are less likely to be offered
transplant opportunities
Not enough private insurance to cover transplant expenses (esp in states)
o Wealthy people frequently travel to foreign countries w. their surgeons to help them
prolong their life w/ the use of various body parts
x Materialism: satisfying needs by buying products or experiences (defined characteristic in
modern societies)
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Stratification Sociology
x Economic prosperity in Canada = -
x Avg. earnings in Canadian households X after WWII
o ? the purchasing power of families Xb/c economic productivity was enhanced by
o Economic downturn began around 1973
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? demand for reduced taxes
People working harder and longer but incomes have not grown proportionately
Most families= dual-income but buying a house and owning more of it that the
govt. = challenge
x Economic prosperity & the benefits of materialism are not equally shared
x One end of the spectrum: lines for food banks, poverty of some rural farmers, used clothes,
baloney, lack of hygiene, despair & depression
o But at the same time world of booze, illicit sex, welfare, cheats, laziness, and deceit
x Other end of spectrum: richest neighbourhood w/ luxuries. World of multimillion $ homes,
indoor swimming pools, outdoor tennis courts, high security systems, brand named items etc.
Language & lifestyle Æ brand names, caviar, spoiled poodles, ambition & success.
o At the same time, world of idle richness, misbegotten inheritance, greedy property
owners, fraud, and deceit.
x Majority live b/w these 2 extremes.
1) How do we measure inequality that falls b/w these 2 extremes?
2) How do we understand fluctuations or variations around this average? How have they changed?
3) Is economic inequality growing or shrinking??
x Income inequality = lowest in Sweden and highest in states (Canada is in b/w)
x Income inequality has widened in most rich countries over the past few decades but hardly by
any in Canada.
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o Taking from the rich to give to the poor.
o Govt. redirects some income from the top quintile to o/ quintiles.
Explanations of Income Inequality:
x Income inequality related to what kind of job a person holds
x Some people have talents that let them be famous which involve X salaries
o Jarome Iginla (Hockey)
o Victoria Bertram (Ballet)
o Ben Heppner (Opera) Talented Canadians w/ substantial incomes
o Lorie Kane (golf)
o Shania Twain (pop music)
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Stratification Sociology
x Who develops what skills depends on access to learning environments
x People can only develop to the level of people they are exposed to
o Ex: Tennis (full development of skills require exposure to competitions)
o Recognition & encouragement needed for development
x Success at formal schooling=key to acquiring economically valued skills
x Since industrial revolution Æ jobs require formal schooling in even greater amounts
x Factors that affect majority income earners: ability to communicate persuasively, think critically,
reason logically, and work creatively
o Natural talent and effort = impt too but education= extremely impt.
x Education determines occupation and income (more so now than ever before)
x As Canadian occupational structures move towards more mature knowledge-driven economy,
impt. Education X
x Children born into educated families have X chances to advance in educational systems
x Individuals must supply talent & effort to accumulate human capital (the sum of useful skills &
knowledge that an individual possesses)
o Rates of success also depend on family human capital as well
Human Capital Theory:
x Physical capital = investment in industrial plants & equipment
x Human capital = investment in education and training
o Productivity gains result from investment in skills & abilities of people
o Knowledge intensive job = (+) in Canada ? better-educated people are hired due to the
essential investments made to the new economy
x Link b/w schooling & incomes
o Sometimes, economic rewards vary for people with the same qualification and
x Reason why people with same human capital receive different incomes is b/c of difference in
social capital ( networks/ connections a person possesses).
x Individuals more likely to succeed if they have strong bonds with respected individuals and
o Helps attain opportunities (networking, knowing the right people..)
x Cultural Capital (French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu): The stock of learning and skills that
increases the chance of securing a superior job
o Focuses on taste and aesthetics
o Emphasizes social skills people have, their ability to impress others, their use of
language and images effectively, and the ability to influence and persuade people
o Social capital Æ networks/ connections w/ o/s Impt of being part of the right
o Cultural capital Æ impression management skills ^}]ooµ_]v]((ÁÇZ}µPZ
o Families in upper class enjoy (+) capitals
o Culture & connections influence who gets an interview
o Social & cultural capital = very impt for finding a job
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