SOCA01H3 Study Guide - Social Stratification, Meritocracy, Achieved Status

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4 Mar 2011
Social stratification refers to persistent patterns of social inequality in society: how
wealth, power & prestige are socially distributed and transmitted from one generation to the
next-exists in all societies
Complexity & Inequality
-Some sociologists say that politics is primarily responsible for equality
-Or that social complexity is most significant
-Occupational complexity
-In hunter-gatherer societies, division of labour is men hunt & women gather they
share everything
- In Inuit culture, the old ppl walk out in the blizzard and dont come back b/c they feel
like theyre a burden to society
-The legitimacy argument occupations try to legitimize what they make, using
excuses such as skill, time, dangers
Mosca on the Inevitability of Inequality
-Mao tried to impose equality and the death toll was 40 million
-His bookthe ruling class
- Inequality is inevitable because societies cant exist w/o politics
-Politics form of decision making & coordination
-Societies are organized and politics does the organizing
- Inequality must exist
-Anarchism political ideas that is suspicious of power & authority
-Believe that inequality is the source of all social problems
- In favour of equality
-First you have political organization, then you have inequalities of power
-When power differences are inevitable, material & inequality is inevitable
-if you have more power, you use it to your advantage
-ppl say Mosca is too pessimistic, synic
-Michels (conflict & elite theorist)
-Iron law of oligarchy - it doesnt matter what any political leader promises you,
once they get into power, they end up being like everybody else b/c of the nature of
power it corrupts
- Inequalities of power encourage corruption
-Stratification process by which categories of ppl are ranked by socially
differentiated characteristics
Class Structure
-class is a group of ppl who have about the same access to economic resources
-class structure refers to a relatively stable & prominent hierarchy of classes
- the existence of classes has been questioned recently because some scholars believe
that material inequalities are decreasing
The big 3 of social stratification
-wealth, prestige & power
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