Social inequality – not caused by personality flaws
Ex. Laziness or lack of motivation / ambition
- They’re poor because opportunities are distributed differently in society by class, age, gender,
ethnic and race
Social inequality: relatively long lasting differences among individuals or groups of people that have
implications for individual lives, especially for the rights / opportunity they exercise and the rewards /
privileges they enjoy.
Ex. Middle class vs. upper class
- Those from the working class do not get the opportunity to attend elite schools or access to
private health services
Structures of inequalities: patterns of advantages and disadvantages that are durable but penetrable
Social times: generations and life time
- Inequality in this aspect would refer to unequal life conditions as well as things people do to
penetrate the structure
Social Structure: the relatively long lasting patterned relationship among the elements of society.
Structural functionalist: an all-encompassing social structure that may be decomposed into several
specialized substructures (economics, political, educational).
- Elements of social structures include social institutions (work organizations and political
institutions) and patterns of social roles.
Structure functionalist believe that individuals conform to the values and norms in social structures and
- De-emphasizes the possibility of conflict in society or the possibility of individual choices are
constrained by the forces of social structure.
Stratification: people can be ranked according to the income, education, occupations, status / prestige
Class relations: rights and powers that people have in production process
*must consider more than one factor: class, gender, race, ethnic, and age*
Age: Canadas population is aging (75 and over is growing faster)
- This creates an environment of competition over the distribution of limited resources between
young and old.
o Women + old age = higher poverty rate vs. men
Marital status also affects this and women’s rate are still higher than men
Social relations: class, age, gender, ethnicity and race
Characterized by power and are fundamental structures to social life.
- Requires an emphasis on “structured forms of power, organizations, directions and regulations”
exist for ruling groups to maintain and reproduce their dominant position Pp. 18-40
Marx and Marxism
Class as a productive social relation
- Society is the history of class struggles
ex. Freeman vs. slave, lord and serf, guild master vs. journey man etc.
*overall = oppressor vs. oppressed
*Our epoch = bourgeoisie vs. proletariat
Marx believed that the “petit bourgeoisie” and other middle class will become extinct.
3 class of modern capitalist society
- Owners of labour power
- Owners of capital
Marx does not examine the difference in income but where the income derives from; labour power,
capital or land property.
- Society divided into class by their relationship to means of production in society
*In captialisms: bourgeoisie (owns means of production) exploit proletariat (workers) – who
has no choice but to sell their labour power to survive.
One cannot just own the machines, one must be able to possess means of
production (get people to work for them)
Wright’s view on Neo-Marxism
a) Interdependence: Material welfare of one group casually depends on the deprivation of
another. One gains another loses.
b) Exclusion: the exclusion of the exploited from access to certain productive resources. One
cannot gain access at all.
c) Appropriation: Exploiters have advantage due to exclusion; it enables them to appropriate
labour effort of the exploited.
Ex. Men vs. women
Gender and social inequality: men get better jobs which leads to women not getting those jobs
(deprivation). Because women are excluded (exclusion) from having access to certain productive
resources, primarily because they have caregiving responsibilities.
*it is not because of exploitation; it is non-exploitative economic oppression. Not given the
Ex. Factory owner makes profit (that profit being the owners material welfare), the owner must
pay workers less (material deprivation), owners takes the workers work, for their own benefit
(appropriation). This is class exploitation
*owners want workers to work harder and longer for less; this results in class conflict not only in
wage level but also on how much work effort is expected.
Middle class: integrated into 2 concepts: skills and authority
Ex. Managers/supervisors at the factory
o Paid higher and enforces work o They exploit the workers; capitalists exploit them
Ex. Someone who possesses certain knowledge / skill can ask for a higher wage: their labour