SOC 1100 Chapter Notes - Chapter 8: Feudalism, Proletariat, Class Consciousness

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10 Aug 2016
Week 6 – February 10th-12th, 2015
Chapter 8: Social Stratification – page #185-210:
Income is unequally distributed in Canada. Government plays a small but important role in
redistributing money to children and families who are poor
Income inequality is lower in Canada than in the united States but higher in many Western
European countries
Most theories of social inequality focus on its economic roots
Power is an important non-economic source of inequality
Although some sociologists used to think that talent and hard work alone determine a
person’s position in the socioeconomic hierarchy, it is now clear that being a member of
certain groups limits opportunities for success. In this sense, social structure shapes the
distribution of inequality.
The Patterns of Social Inequality:
Shipwrecks and Inequality:
Social stratification refers to the way in which society is organized in layers or strata
They use the shipwreck as a literary device
It allows them to sweep away all traces of privilege and social convention
What remains are humans being stripped to their essentials, guinea pigs, in an imaginary
laboratory for the study of wealth and poverty, power and powerlessness, esteem and
Economic Inequality in Canada:
Canada is one of the world’s most prosperous countries
Increases in family income adjusted for inflation were most rapid form the end of World War II
until the economic downturn that began in 1971
Average family income then remained quite stable for more than 2 decades, after which it
returned to an upward trend
The purchasing power of families rose for 2 main reasons
1. Economic productivity increased as workers’ skills and technologies improved
2. Large numbers of women entered the paid labour force
In reality, people don’t share prosperity equally some are rich, some are poor, and most are
in between
Explanations of Income Inequality:
The job a person holds plays a large role
We know that some individuals earn high salaries because their natural talent allows them to
take jobs that pay a lot
The importance of education as a determinant of occupation and income continues to
Human capital is the sum of useful skills and knowledge that an individual possesses
Social capital refers to the networks or connections that individuals possess
Cultural capital is the stock of knowledge, tastes, and habits that legitimate the
maintenance of state and power
Natural talent and effort are importance, and for a few occupations very significant
For most canandians, level of education (or developed skill) is a critical factor for finding
continuous, well-paying employment
In addition, social and cultural capital are consequential for many people in finding economic
Explaining an individual’s position in the income of hierarchy depends on several factors but
these 4 are the most crucial
1. Natural talent ! rewards
2. Natural talent + effort ! rewards
3. Natural talent + effort + skill-rich environments + developed skills ! rewards
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