Open stratification system = merit determines social rank.
Class = people who have similar access to or control over material resources.
Socioeconomic status = people’s general status within the economic hierarchy based on
income, education, and occupation.
Petite bourgeoisie = independent owners/producers like farmers and small business
Social relations of production = the relationships between the classes involved in
Means of production = technology, capital investment, and raw materials used in
Mode of production = system of economic activity in a society, composing the means of
production and the class system.
Class conflict = conflict between major classes within a mode of production which
eventually leads to the evolution of a new mode of production.
Power = the ability to impose one's will on others.
Intergenerational occupational mobility = individual's occupational mobility in relation to
parents' occupational status. Intragenerational occupational mobility = individual's occupational mobility in his or her
LICO = poverty line, estimate of income level below a person might be living in relative
poverty - 63% of income spent on basic necessities.
Life chances = opportunities for a higher standard of living and better quality of life that
are available to members of a given class.
Contradictory class locations = locations within a class structure populated by
occupational groupings with divided loyalties (ex. managers who supervise some but
report to others).
Circulatory mobility = occupational mobility wherein well qualified individuals move
upward to replace less qualified ones, so they move downward.
Occupational status attainment = process whereby person attains a particular occupational
status and the factors that influence that process.
Structural mobility = occupational mobility in society resulting from changes in
occupational structure, ex. Upward mobility because more middle class jobs are being
Functional theory of stratification:
- Davis and Moore
- Stratification is necessary
- It exists to maintain social equilibrium
- People whose jobs are more valuable to society get paid more - However, the functional theory of stratification can’t be true because we need
lower class workers (ex. Farmers) more than higher class workers (ex. Doctors) –
- It also ignores the talent pool that remains untapped because of inequality
- Functionalists ignore the advantages the wealthy have and say people get to the
top just by working hard and being smart
- But the opportunities rich people have (and pass on to their kids) are different
than the ones poor people have
- The theory also ignores transmission of wealth between generations
Marx and stratification:
- Eventually we will reach the point of a classless society
- Economic forces (people no longer needing protection and becoming so wealthy
they wanted material goods) destroyed feudalism
- People who owned mines and mills and railroads realized they could make more
money by concentrating the workers in larger establishments and giving them
each specialized tasks
- The most efficient capitalists drive the less efficient ones out of business, so they
- So you have an increasingly wealthy and increasingly small number of wealthy
- The classes become polarized and the workers become impoverished
- If you keep them all really poor, they’re going to become angry, and they’re also
going to realize they’re all part of the same class and rebel
- If they’re poor, they can’t consume what factories produce, so there will be
recessions and so much will be produced that no one can afford them
- So capitalists go out of business, and eventually the political parties will take over
the factories and produce things not for profit but for the benefit of society
- Marx said this was inevitable Problems with Marx’s theory:
- Industrial societies didn’t polarize with bourgeoisie and proles
- Amiddle class emerged and became really big, which was different than the
proles because people had lots of education and thus had a stake in society the
proles didn’t have
- Capitalism persisted by stimulating demand and creating easy credit
- We have recessions, but to stimulate the economy, we use Keynes economics,
where we hire people to do jobs that are good for the public, which stimulates
demand (New Deal)
- If we can borrow money from other governments, artificially stimulate demand,
and then get good taxes after the recession to pay off the debt, capitalism works
- Business owners can also artificially stimulate demand by advertising, things
going out of style after a year, etc.
- Investment in technology has made it possible for people to earn more money,
work fewer hours, and in better conditions
- Workers also got state benefits like employment insurance
Weber and stratification:
- Weber thought the middle class would grow, not fall
- Power can lie in controlling political or economic qualities or prestige
- Aperson’s class is determined by his market situation (possession of goods,
opportunities for income, education, level of technical skill)
- There are large property owners, small property owners, people who own no
property but have high education, and people who own no property but are highly
- Status groups, honour, power, also stratify society, not just economy
- These stratification bases are independent of each other (ex.Al Capone who was
very wealthy but people hated him or priests with high prestige but little money or
people who get invited to TED Talks with high prestige but little money) - So there’s nothing inevitable about inequality – we decide how much inequality
there should be
- Parkin took Weber’s idea of social closure = methods used by powerful groups to
maintain unequal status and exclude others from resources
- Exclusion = organized effort by privileged, more powerful groups to maintain
- Usurpation = effort of excluded groups to gain advantages and power at the
expense of more powerful groups
2. Race and Ethnicity
Porter coined the term vertical mosaic and suggested that there are distinct ethnic
identities that are vertically arranged, defined by class and ethnicity.
De facto discrimination = based on social custom.
Race is a social construct of people who have been singled out as inferior or superior,
often based on alleged physical characteristics.
Ethnic groups are based on cultural features, ex. a sense of community, ethnocentrism,
the tendency to occupy a distinct geographic area, etc.
Symbolic interactionist theories of race:
- Authoritarian personality = a person who is conformist, submissive to authority,
intolerant, insecure, and thinks rigidly
- Contact hypothesis = positive contact with other races leads to better attitudes
Functionalist theories of race: - Assimilation = absorbed into dominant culture
- Acculturation/cultural assimilation = members of an ethnic group adopt dominant
group traits like clothing or religion or language
- Integration/structural assimilation = members of subordinate groups gain
acceptance by dominant groups
- Amalgamation/biological assimilation = intermarriage
- Psychological assimilation = a change in self-identification, ex. Canadian as
opposed to German
- Ethnic pluralism = existence of distinct racial and ethnic groups