Study Guides (238,107)
Canada (114,926)
Sociology (916)


29 Pages
Unlock Document

Western University
Sociology 2173A/B
Leichelle Little

UNIT 6.1: Economic Relations I: Back To The Future Introduction o First Wave: extending from the Industrial Revolution through the late nineteenth century, during which capitalism developed its defining features and spread its tentacles throughout the Western world. o Second Wave: triggered by the waning of European imperialism and characterized by the invention and intensification of consumerism o Third Wave: yet imperfectly realized, beginning sometime around the late nineteen-seventies Classic “Laissez-Faire” Liberalism o Joanne Naiman describes that liberalism is and always has been the defining ideology in the US. Its cornerstones are the three values on which the American Constitution was based: democratic governance, individual freedom, and equality of “men” o Believe we still live in a society where elite white males are more equal than others o Liberalism often identified with progressive social policy o Liberalism promises equality of opportunity, not equality of condition – leveling the playing field, not making sure everyone has the same equipment o Having equal right to compete for the goods of the world does not mean much when a person is denied the access, tools and personal resources that will allow them to take advantage of that right. o Laissez-faire: let things alone, let them pass The Rise Of The Welfare State o The most novel proposition, from the standpoint of liberalism, was the idea that the state should intervene in the market, using its regulatory tools and taxing powers to prevent the kind of economic swings that produce destructive boom- and-bust cycles o The most notable byproduct of this shift of thinking, at least for present purposes was not the economic prosperity of the post-war period, but the growth of what later become known as the “social safety net” o Based on the idea that the government should use tax dollars in the form of social assistance (pensions, EI, welfare) to keep money in consumers pockets during recessionary periods, this policy not only reduced economic inequality but as a kind of spinoff effect, also turned a spotlight on social inequality Why Didn’t It Last? o Stagflation – where the supposedly opposing tendencies of inflation and unemployment both spiraled out of control at the same time (lead to the downfall of Keynesianis) o At the same time, “trickle-down” theory of economics (Ronald Reagan), what this theory proposed was that if the folks at the top of the heap were set to pursue their ventures without constrain, the benefits would trickle down to the general population - this thinking was particularly known as neoconservatism The Rise Of Neoliberalism o Fiscal austerity – North American government tackled deficit-reduction by cutting down budgets and staff, slashing program spending and downloading many responsibilities to lower levels of government. Believe that a second prong to this initiative would be to raise taxes. The result was not merely the unraveling of the social safety net, but the erosion of public institutions (healthcare, education) and physical infrastructure o Decentralizations – The US has always been more decentralized than Canada. Responsibility for, an oversight of, public programs and services are downloaded from the federal government to the provinces, and thence in many cases to the municipalities or the ordinary citizen o Privatization – critical aspect of the decentralizing/downloading tendency is privatization of services and enterprises, which were formally owned and/or ordered by the government. A wide range of services and enterprises formerly owned an/or offered by the government are either sold or contracted out to private sector operators. Problems related to this development include deunionization of workforces, along with the attendant and deterioration of wages and conditions; uneven quality of programming across regions; and neglect of high needs (and therefore more expensive) client groups o Shrinkage of the social Safety net – General loss of social benefits, affects already-disadvantaged groups, biggest losers from this development are women due to their familial responsibilities, relatively lower income, and more tenuous connection to the labour market, women across the board are more dependent on social assistance programs than men o Deregulation – Removal of government “red tape” is supposed to keep down the costs of doing business, to the benefit of producers and consumers alike. Scaling back or elimination of regulations pertaining to business and industry, along with declining budgets for agencies responsible for enforcement, results in a radical weakening of environmental, labour and health and safety standards. o “Free” trade and investment liberalization – Dismantling of traditional trade barriers, from tariffs through subsidies to protective measures for culture or social goods, under the direction (or coercion) of international treaties and organizations like NAFTA and GATT, significantly reduces national autonomy. Unit 6.2: Economic Relations II: Globalization o For many nineteenth century radicals, including Marx, the concept of global civilization, without war, without economic competition, without oppressive state apparatuses was a positive ideal o Globalization looks different depending on where one sits, with the colonizers or the colonized Technological Theories Of Globalization o Development of computer mediated communication (CMC) and other forms of information technology which drove, or at least facilitated the internationalization of commerce o Idea of technology drives social change – technological determinism o Three main phases in human society, each of which took characterizing form from the communications technology available to them 1. Oral Communications: communities relied on face-to-face interactions, they were characterized by localized and personalized power structures (tribal societies) 2. Print Communications: invention of print brought on two important innovations: the ability to communicate across distances (lead to empirical building) and the ability to keep records (lead to far-reaching developments as the rise of bureaucracies and the transformation of “philosophy” into practical science). Development between them drove the chain of events that lead to mass society – secularization, progress, the industrial revolution, and the rise of the middle-class. Also lead the formation of the modern State, where power was depersonalized, rule-bounded based on legitimacy rather than force 3. Electronic communications: divided into two periods, modern and postmodern with the computer as the fulcrum. Modern electronic communications would include in order of appearance – telegraph, telephone, radio and television. The main postmodern additions were computers, cellphones, cheap recording equipment and internet o Reaction to the third stage that we find the strongest differences in opinions o The best known booster of electronic technology was Canadian Marshall Mcluhan o In Mcluhan’s theory, electronic communications had such tremendous liberating potential that they would literally reverse the oppressive centralizing and totalizing effects of the print revolution. Invented “global village” – a phrase which now sounds rather ominous, at the time was seen as visionary and progressive o George Grant – dehumanizing effects of technological society continues to resonate to the present day o From Grants perspective, the problem was not just that the new communications technology was invidious per se, but the fact that US controlled it o Mumford: foreshadowed recent developments moving from technophilia to technophobia, fully committed to the idea of electronic paradise – he coined phrases like paleotechnics (mechanical technology) and neotechnics (electronic technology), believed the shift from one to another was going to revolutionize both modes and relations of production. Neotechnics also promised to restore the organic principle to human society o Main tenet: social change is driven by technological change o World history can be divided into three phases, based on the prevailing modes of communication: oral, print, electronic, with the electronic phase further subdivided into modern and postmodern o Globalization is an artifact of postmodern technologies such as CMC which allows instantaneous global communication, easy dissemination of ideology and decoupling of economic activity from administration Cultural Theories Of Globalization o Cultural imperialism theory was rooted in the same strain of thought that produced the anti-war movement o Part had to do with the anti-materialist mood of the period, which triggered not only the commune movement but the general attitude of “tune in/turn on/drop out” o Part was also rooted in the idea that the US was trying to impose its own values and beliefs on the rest of the world o Main tenet: exploration and conquest is driven at least partly by the missionary impulse o Globalization represents a deliberate “westernization” of the Third World, in which traditional means like military coercion are supplanted by ideological indoctrination via the products of culture, leading to economic absorption o First fly in the ointment is the fact that commodities are inherently ideological, not only do they carry ideological messages in the way they are packaged and publicized; through mechanism of interpellation, they pressure potential consumers into being the kinds of people, having the kinds of values, to which they “speak”. o Second is the fact that consumption itself is an ideology, an ideology which is in marked contrast to, and implicitly destructive of the conservative values of traditional societies. o Third and this is something that has been a bone of contention between Canada and the US ever since the Free Trade Agreement, is the fact that much of what is being peddled is explicitly ideological Economic Theories Of Globalization (Policital Economy) o Main tenet: “westernization” so-called is an unintended side effect of the natural spread of capitalism via its main agent, the transnational corporations o In fact, neoliberal ideology is not specifically Western at all; it is the ideology of modernity – the West just picked up on its first o Once the Third World learns the capitalists “way” the Western advantage will decline, all players will be on an even playing field o Theoretically at least, the transnational corporations don’t care who is in charge or what political system/religious/culture people embrace as long as they can operate unhindered and spread the gospel of consumerism o Globalization is simply a byproduct of our economic system, an offshoot of the fundamental capitalist maxim that if you don’t expand you collapse o At this point, corporations turn to the Third World because they have exhausted the markets at home. o Just care about a demand for their products o Today globalization isn’t simply about finding new customers – it’s about freeing capitalism from geography entirely. o A transnational is an enterprise whose home is literally everywhere and nowhere o Critical revisioning of “Trickle-Down” Economics Transationalization of Capital LEADS TO Corporations have access to more compliant (“business friendly”) host countries, cheap labour, alternative markets for inferior (or dangerous or socially undesirable) products LEADS TO Less susceptibility to regulation by any given local government, accompanied by increased economic power OVER local governments (I.e. through threats to decamp, taking their plants and jobs with them LEADS TO Neoliberal governments seize on the excuse to accommodate business with deregulation, tax cuts, subsidies, reduced transfer payments, etc. LEADS TO Restructuring, downsizing, outsourcing, deterioration of jobs Canada In The Age Of Globalization o Economic dependency is nothing new for Canada o Country got its start as a provider of raw materials from Britain, and long beyond political independence o One long struggle between opportunists who want to take advantage of foreign markets and investors, and nationalists who fear the strings attached to these external connections o Struggle came to a climax in 1988 when, under the influence of a determined business lobby and against the wishes of a majority of ordinary Canadians, the Mulroney Conservative signed the first Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US o Most important and negative impacts: o Government no longer has meaningful control over foreign investment, which means that it no longer has meaningful control over the economy o Large portions of what used to be publically owned enterprises and services have been privatized. Along with privatization comes de- unionization and the growth of “bad” jobs, particularly part-time and contingency work o Social programs, already under threat from deficit-reduction, are further threatened by the idea that they constitute “unfair” subsidies of Canadian businesses. Environmental and labour regulations are attacked as illegitimate interference with business operations o With the loss of the government’s ability to make “deals” to keep jobs in the country, many corporations move their operations to cheap-labour locales (southern US, Mexico). This phenomenon is most visible in the traditional manufacturing sector and in vulnerable industries like shoes and textiles o Trend overall exacerbate the gap between the have and have-not regions of the country, as well as the have and have-not segments of the population Unit 7.1: Economic Relations III: The Changing Work World Recent Changes in the World of Work • Increased female participation in the workforce o Female employment to population rate has increased, not all is voluntary 1. Sectorial Shift • Artifact of economic mega-trend • Labour market has undergone two major transformations • First phase characterized by a shift of employment away from primary sector occupations (agriculture, fishing, mining, logging) into the industrial, goods-producing sector • Second phase saw the coming into dominance of tertiary or service sector jobs • Last two decades have witnessed yet another critical transition – while growth continues to be concentrated in the service sector relative to manufacturing, a more notable effect is a shift from labor-intensive to knowledge-intensive jobs within both sectors – this has lead to a greater polarization of good and bad jobs 2. The Leaner, Meaner Workplace • One of the commonest cost-cutting strategies for business under stress was downsizing in the ninties • In the eighties, recession driven shrinkage was generally characterized by temporary staff cuts 3. The Growth Of Non-Standard Work • Byproduct of the other two • Huge burgeoning of non-standard forms of employment • Most common type of non-standard work is part-time work • Part-time work is still dominated by women • Part time work characterized by short tenure, irregular hours, low pay, no benefits, and a great deal of uncertainty 4. Technological Change • Recent rapid changes in technology have affected employment in two ways • The first was in precipitating a marked decrease in the number of workers required to maintain given levels of production as more and more jobs are processes, from manufacturing to secretarial work, became computerized • Second was in raising the bar on skill requirements – produced a skill gap • How did this happen? o Blame it on short-sightedness of Canadian universities many of which cut back in technical areas in the wake of the dot-come crash of the late 90s o Government for linking post-secondary funding to increased enrollment rather than quality programming o Trend to higher male drop-out rates over the last decade which has left females 5. Unemployment • 8.3% unemployment rate in 2009 • Statistic obscures a number of troubling subtends o Doesn’t distinguish between part-time and full-time o Only counts individuals who are actively job-hunting, doesn’t account for discouraged workers o Doesn’t capture the significant subgroup discrepancies within categories such as race, ethnicity, immigrant status, low education, language deficits, disabilities o Doesn’t reflect the depth of the problem things such as the duration of unemployment The Other Side Of The Picture YOUTH • Unemployment rates have been close to twice the rates for adults • Beyond short term discomfort, this trend is alarming for two reasons • 1) Extent to which early unemployment can scar nascent careers • 2) There is every reason to believe that what we are seeing here are signs of a general cohort disadvantagement • Youth today are worse off than previous generations, they will never catch up to their parents OLDER WORKERS • Seem relatively well-off • Characterized by seniority, high incomes and golden-parachute retirement • “Fat Cat” Syndrome – this is an illusion fostered by the fact that in-group inequality increases radically with age IMMIGRANTS • Do work cheaper on average but this is not by choice • Unemployment rates for immigrants have always been higher than the general population, but the gap widened significantly during the 90s • Immigrants tend to have more education as a group than Canadians in general • Work isn’t work as much as a it used to be, plus more jobs involve a lot more work than they used to • Workers lost leverage Critical Revisioning of “Trickle-Down” Economics LEADS TO Corporations have access to more compliant (“business friendly”) host countries, cheap labour, alternative markets for inferior (or dangerous or socially undesirable) products LEADS TO Less susceptibility to regulation by any given local government, accompanied by increased economic power OVER local governments (I.e. through threats to decamp, taking their plants and jobs with them LEADS TO Neoliberal governments seize on the excuse to accommodate business with deregulation, tax cuts, subsidies, reduced transfer payments, etc. LEADS TO Restructuring, downsizing, outsourcing, deterioration of jobs LEADS TO 1. Declining rates of unionization 2. Decreased individual earnings 3. Lower family incomes (means that workers have less social power, less political power, less buying power – less leverage) 4. Corporations along with their shareholders, directors, and executives make obscenely large profits LEADS TO 1. Increased female labour market participation, not all voluntary 2. Decreased prospects for higher-priced, better protected male workers 3. Permanent disadvantaging of younger cohorts 4. Increased income inequality (i.e. the rich get richer, the poor get poorer Two Perspectives on Gender & Work First Scenario – men are absolutely better off than women • It is well established that women cluster in lower paid, lower status occupations, and at lower levels in given occupations; • It is also well established that they are overrepresented in part-time work, and fare less well in self-employment; • While the gap narrowed during the ’70s and ’80s, largely due to pay equity legislation, the female-to-male earnings ratio has stalled since the early ’90s at 0.72; • Though women’s labour market participation has risen overall, it drops off sharply after 50 – there is evidence that a major reason for this is ageism; • Women’s durations of unemployment are significantly longer than men’s, especially for older cohorts; again there is evidence that discrimination is a factor. Second scenario – women’s prospects have been improving while men’s have been declining: • Women made strong gains on almost every measure relative to men over the last quarter century; • They improved their representation in every male-dominated profession, and most notably in managerial positions; • Their unemployment rates declined markedly over the nineties, while men’s rose – in 2009 female to male rates were 7.0% versus 9.45%; • Between 1988 and 2008, the gap between male and female average hourly wages narrowed by 7.6 percentage points; as a result, women’s real earnings rose more than 11%, while male earnings declined; • Prime-aged, well educated women have done better than equivalent males on all fronts The “real” story – both genders have lost ground over the last decade as a result of neoliberal economic policies Unit 7.2: Economic Relations IV: Poverty & Social Inequality Poverty Most striking indicator of the economic health of a community • Growth of Poverty o Increased dramatically o Poverty levels linked closely with unemployment which was linked with business cycles o However since the mid 90s this is no longer the case o The intensity of poverty – the amount by which the average income of poor families fell short of the official poverty line – also continued to increase after the economy bounced back o Large proportion of the poverty we are now seeing in the country is permanent, not temporary o Heisz attributes this development specifically to changes in government’s economic policies • Feminization of poverty o Poverty is strongly gendered o Women’s income decreases by almost a third after a divoce, while men’s rice o Aggravating the impact of divorce is the lack of affordable child care in most parts of the country • Child poverty o Not all of these are children of single parents o Most of the poor children in Canada are growing up in two-parent families o These children are poor because their parents are poor and their parent’s poverty often stems from unemployment, underemployment, inadequate minimum wage levels, reduced social welfare supports o Child poverty levels in Canada have remained constant since the late 90s, despite economic growth o Rates are particularly high for children of recent immigrants, First Nation children, visible minority children and children with disabilities • Youth Poverty o Fallen deeper into poverty especially if they marry early o Root cause of this change is a lack of employment opportunities – a situation that has only gotten worse • Elder poverty o Seniors are one of the few groups who are better off than they used to be o As usual women are worse off than men • The High Price of Independence o A family can no longer survive on one salary o Single men don’t collect as many benefits o Male or female, individuals without family support are clearly at greater risk than any other demographic group in our society The Policy Context • The two biggest factors in creating the current social climate were the mid 90s liberal fixation on deficit reduction and the post 90s Conservative fixation on tax-cutting • Battle notes the variety of reasons used to justify these agendas – mushrooming public debt, overburdened social assistance programs, demographic changes (more women working, rising divorce rates, population aging), the increasingly evident flaws in Keynesianism, tax fatigue, etc. • According to Battle, three changes in particular were responsible for the decline in social wellbeing 1. Reduced transfer to the provinces – cutting funding they provided to the provinces for social programs. Reduced the amount of money available to cover needs 2. Changes to specific programs – many programs were revamped; to reduce the size of payouts, most obvious was gutting EI. 3. Abandonment of the principle of universality – although the government still pays lip service to universality, the principle has been eroding for years with things like de facto two-tier health services, user fees for previously free public service and more emphasis on needs testing in the provision on social assistance. The latter applies particularly to welfare. Outcomes • Individual income is made up of four components o Market income – which is the sum of private earnings, investment income and income from private annuities or pensions o Government transfers – cash benefits paid through such programs as EI, welfare or public pensions o Non-cash public services – everything from roads and sewers to education and healthcare o Tax benefits and/or liabilities • Income inequality is greatest at the level of market income The Ultimate Mixed Message • Canada has moved a giant step toward the world’s most fully developed neoliberal state • Mass in the sense of “democratic” is pretty much out of the picture • Mass in the Frankfurt School sense of a regimented, dehumanized and exploited proletariat is definitely back on the table • Mass in the sense of mass-mediated is more relevant than ever. • Both our world and world view are literally constructed through the media • One message that comes through more than anything is to BUY • Leads to the ultimate mixed message • Ideologically we are still being treated like consumers Key Features of Poverty in Canada o Poverty levels increased markedly in Canada during the nineties; according to Stats can, in 2006 they stood at 10.5%. o Poverty also intensified during the nineties (i.e., the poor got relatively poorer), while income inequality soared. o Particularly hard-hit groups included single mothers, unattached seniors, children, ethnic minorities, and young families. o Unlike earlier periods, poverty levels during this decade were not linked to unemployment rates, suggesting that a large proportion of the increase was not cyclical but structural. o Supporting this hypothesis, though poverty decreased somewhat in the early 2000s, even before the 2008 recession rates were still higher than they were two decades earlier. o Prior to the nineties, Canada’s poverty levels were in the mid-range of those in western Europe and much lower than those in the US. In recent decades, however, Canadian poverty has risen while American poverty declined. We now have poverty rates as high or higher than any western European country except Italy and Greece. o Experts consider that the single main reason for the growth of poverty over this period was the reduction of transfer payments. Unit 8.1: The New Anomie Introduction o The real culprit, the factor that turns isolated problems into broad-scale dysfunction, is the dislocation between different facets of our social experience – between want and need, between the real and the ideal, between the promise and the possible. o Durkheim’s anomie: the extent to which a disjunction between social values and real-world conditions can produce a malaise characterized by feelings of alienation and purposelessness. o What happens when people lost the sense of commonality and certainty provided by the stable, slow-changing social circumstances of pre-industrial village life o On the positive side it made it possible to believe that there was no limit to what the individual could achieve o On the negative side, eliminating limits also lessened the changes of satisfaction o People lost their sense of what it was reasonable to expect of themselves and of the world at large o Durkheim argues that specific features of industrial society, particularly in the sphere of economic activity, produce a chronic state of normative deregulation o For many people the shortfall between expectations and reality produces not only disillusionment but an unbearable sense of dislocation of not belonging o Durkheim interested primarily in the denormalization process, and particularly the way the loss of shared values led to a decline in social cohesion Robert Merton o Reworking of anomie o Merton’s vision accepted the social goals as reasonable – the problem was in the inequitable distribution of the means to achieve them o Individuals typically reacted in one of five ways 1. Conformity – the individual accepts the goals society sets, along with the institutionalized means. Failure to prosper is denied
More Less

Related notes for Sociology 2173A/B

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.