SOC260 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Social Inequality, Meritocracy, Neoliberalism
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Thursday September 6th 2018
Introduction: Chapter 1
Meritocracy: government or power held by people on the basis of their ability; a ruling or influential
class of educated or skilled people; a system where talented people are chosen & move ahead based
on their achievements; leadership is selected on the basis of intellectual criterial.
In this class, we will consider the:
1. Structural explanations of inequality
o E.g. we have ‘x’ number of Canadians that can’t find jobs which is due to ‘y’
o An explanation that focuses on social structure related to limitations (e.g. unequal
conditions, poverty, power differentials, patriarchy structures, etc.).
2. The relationship between agents and social structure
o E.g. people aren’t poor because they are just poor…we have to consider circumstances,
policies, social limitations, etc.
o To what extent are we really free agents? For example, why are we here in school? Are
we here because we want to be, to better ourselves, or are we merely following the
middle-upper-class beliefs and set structure of moving through life?
3. How inequality is (re)produced through social relations
Sociologists and Inequality
• Want to alleviate inequality
• Recognize that inequality is not caused by personality flaws
• Opportunities are distributed differently
Sociologists want to explain
• Why poverty exists (what are the structural explanations?)
• What factors contribute to social inequality
• How and through what processes inequality is maintained
• What changes need to be made to create a more equal society?
**for the exam, focus on WHO says WHAT. What is the theory? How is it different from others?
**about 11% of Canadians are in poverty at any given time** (about 1/3)
Social Inequality: happens when the resources in a society are distributed unevenly, typically through
norm of allocation; relational processes in society that limit or harm a group’s social status, etc.
Structures of inequality:
Experience of inequality:
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