SOC101 Readings (New Society & Society in Question, 6th edition)

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Robert Brym

Social Stratification New Society Ch. 6 Social stratification: persistent patterns of social inequality within society Particular groups (unemployed, homeless, women, youth, refugees, immigrants, & Aboriginals) rank lower than others in the social stratification system Low ranking = having little power, wealth, & prestige; generally a higher position implies the opposite Also means: manner in which valued resources wealth, power, & prestige are distributed, & the way in which the advantages of wealth, power, & prestige are passed from one generation to another Inequalities in wealth can threaten social capability (poor resenting the wealth & demanding more equality) Inequalities in power can be used to maintain social order Social stratification in one form or another exists in all societies; much more pronounced in most societies, basic skills seldom foundation of primary social hierarchies Status: rank or position that a person has within a social hierarchy Ascribed status: a position in a hierarchy that has been achieved by virtue of how well someone performs in some role (occupational status) Meritocracy: everyone has equal chance to compete for higher status positions, & presumably those most capable would be awarded highest rank Social mobility: as those who are more qualified move up the social hierarchy to replace those who were less competent & who were consequently compelled to move down Open stratification system: system in which merit, rather than inheritance (or ascribed characteristics), determines social rank & in which social change is possible (Canada) Britain has aristocracy where children of wealthy & powerful families of long standing inherit positions & titles Caste system (India): caste into which an individual is born largely determines what work they he/she will be allowed to do (closed stratification system) Canada offers many more chances for upward mobility, indication of a more open stratification system Social stratification system consists of a # of different hierarchies, some based on ascribed characteristics, others achievement Women on average earn 75% of what men earn Older women more likely to be living in poverty Members of visible minorities, in particular Aboriginals are more likely to be unemployed; if employed in low-paying jobs Employers wealthier than most members of societies, professional & managerial occupations typically earn a great deal more than lower-level employees Owners, self-employed professionals, managers typically have more job security Material inequality: differences in income & wealth or property Class: used to indicate the position of an individual or a family within an economic hierarchy, along w/ others who have roughly the same amount of control over or access to economic or material resources Individual can be said to be a member of a class: large landowners, wage- labourers & salaried workers (working class) or professional/managerial) What makes one a member of a class? Similar economic situation & opportunities, a result of their shared position within a societys system of economic production Class structure: overall economic hierarchy, based on income, education, & occupation Karl Marx Had immense impact on how we think about social stratification Observed that Industrial Revolution was a time in which both the level of economic production & the degree of inequality in society increased tremendously 1) Mode of production: overall system of economic activity in a society 2) Means of production: technology, capital investments, & raw materials 3) Social relations of production: relationships btw the main classes involved in production 2 major classes within industrial capitalism: bourgeoisie & proletariat Petite bourgeoisie: independent landowners/producers (farmers) & small business owners Surplus value: value of goods produced by wage labourers far exceed the amount needed to pay their wages & cost of raw materials, technology, & other forms of production Surplus value of commodities turn into profits for the owner Class conflict btw major classes in a society was the driving force behind Marxs theory of social change Class consciousness: oppressed working class would recognize its enemy, destroy the institutions of capitalism, & replace them w/ a classless society based on collective ownership of the means of production Weber Had advantage of seeing the direction in which a more mature industrial capitalism was taking European society Believed that economic inequalities central to social stratification system & that ownership of property was primary determinant of power, or the ability to impose your wishes on others to get them to do what you want Life chances: higher position in the economic hierarchy provided more power & allowed an individual & his/her family to enjoy more of the good things in life Structural functionalist theory: emphasizes consensus over conflict, seeks to explain the function of society as a whole, of social institutions & various aspects of social structure Davis & Moore B/c inequalities exist in all societies, it must be functionally necessary part of society System held together by consensus & shared values b/c members of society generally agree that the hierarchy is just & fair To an extent, differences in income & prestige are based on different amounts of effort & ability Lenski Theory of power privilege attempted to explain the extent of material inequality in both contemporary & past societies Societys technological base largely determines the degree of inequality within it Casual link btw complex industrial technology, higher education of worker & workers insistence on sharing growing wealth of an industrial society Industrial elite needed educated workers, wealth couldnt be created w/o them Wright Recognized as industrial capitalism matured, middle class grew & became more diverse Contradictory class locations occupational groupings that have divided loyalties within a class structure Exploitation of one class by another can occur through control of property or the means of production, as well as through ownership of skill or credential assets & control of high positions within organizations Parkin Emphasized importance of property relations in contemporary stratification systems, explains how patterns of structured inequality whether based on class, gender, race, or some other ascribed or achieved status, are maintained or changed Social closure: process by which social collectivities seek to maximize rewards by restricting access to resources & opportunities to a limited circle of eligibles Exclusion: organized efforts of privileged, powerful groups to maintain advantaged position Excluding others = maintenance of incomes, high standards of living, great deal of power Usurption: efforts of excluded groups within a stratification system to gain advantages & power Most prominent occupational shift over the course of the century is the decline in agricultural occupations; also decline in other natural resource based occupations (forestry, fishing, mining) Manufacturing occupations increased in relative terms, by 2006 decline in manufacturing jobs has continued since then Blue-collar occupations: manufacturing, construction, transportation, resource- based White-collar: managerial, professional, clerical, sales, service categories White collar jobs greatly out # blue as industrial capitalism has matured Occupational shifts suggest greater class diversity, rather than a polarization of classes, rise in standard of living for Canadians rather than increased poverty & exploitation Pink-collar sector: women more likely to find jobs in clerical, sales, & service occupations than in blue-collar or higher-status & better paying managerial & professional occupations Unemployment rates are rising again, part-time/temporary work much more common, income growth has appeared to stop, income & wealth inequality have increased Intragenerational occupational mobility: mobility within an individuals lifetime Intergenerational: process of reaching an occupational location higher or lower than the location your parents held Circulatory mobility: better qualified people moving up to replace those who were less qualified thus leading to downward mobility Those at or near the top of the occupational hierarchy still more likely to pass their advantages on their children Occupational status attainment shows that most important influence on the status of an individuals current job is the status of their 1t Status of 1 job heavily influenced by the amount of education completed Children from more advantaged backgrounds can build on initial advantages Canadian families considerably wealthier in 2005 than 1970 Wealth gap btw rich & poor families has been growing over the past 2 decades in Canada
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