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Textbook NotesChapter 8: Social Stratification 1
Patterns of Social Inequality
Shipwrecks and Inequality
•Writers / filmmakers often use shipwrecks to describe inequality, because after the
shipwreck, people are stripped of their wealthiness and have only the basic essentials left,
and all social classes become equal. Movies like "Swept Away", "Titanic" explain this
Economic Inequality in Canada
•the poors are more likely to sell organs and the riches are more likely to buy organs. The
poors are less likely to be offered transplant opportunities due to not having adequate private
health insurance, or the fact that they're more likely to donate instead of receiving. The
typical donors in Canada are usually youngens and are victims of accidental or deliberate
•Materialism (the attempt to satisfy needs by buying products or experiences) is a defining
characteristic of modern society.
•Economic Prosperity (success) makes Canada one of the best countries to live in (average
earning = $74,800).
•Calcuating income inequality => 100 ppl earnd 300,000. divide them into 5 groups, compare
the % of earning distribution between the top group and bottom group. Top group earned
120,000 (40%) and bottom group earned 12,000 (4%), thus we can tell that there is a huge
gap between the 2 groups. Thus there is social inequality. The MOST UNEQUALed
distribution would be 100% vs 0%, and the MOST EQUALed distribution would be 20% per
•By using the method above, if we re-look at the economic prosperity of Canada, the top
group has increased while the bottom group has decreased, thus income inequality has
increased. Also, Income inequality has widened in most rich countries.
Explanations of Income Inequality
•The job a person holds play a huge rolein income distribution (To get those jobs, education
is needed more nowadays comparing to before).
•Most people begin the journey toward adult employment within a family circle and are
certain to be exposed to whatever is prevalent there (family influence often determines your
educational level / future career)
•Thus, Individuals must supply talent and effort to accumulate human capital (sum of useful
skills and knowledge that an individual posesses) but RATES of success also depend on the
human captial their FAMILIES accumulated in previous generations.
Human Captial Theory
•the investment in education and training which will get people better jobs. Higher
education/training = higher paying jobs.
•However, sometimes people with the same education level can get different level jobs. This
involves Social capital in which if a person has good networks and connections, the person
can get better jobs.
•Cultural capital emphasizes a set of social skills people have, thei ability to impress others,
use language and images effectively, and to influence and persuade people. The idea of
cultural capital emphasizes your impression-management skills, your ability to influence
•Both Social and Cultural capitals emphasize being part of the right "social club" > people
you are around.
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Textbook NotesChapter 8: Social Stratification 2
Income and Poverty
•Canada does have an official definition of poverty while alot of other countries do not.
•Low-income cutoff: is Statistic canada's term for the income threshold below which a
family devotes a larger share of its income to the necessities of food, shelter, and clothing
than an average family would, likely resulting in straitened circumstances.
•The threshold is different depending on the family size / commnity size.
Myths about the Poor
•many myths about the poor are INACCURATE. (laziness, immigrants, young ppl that moved
out, or people are trapped in poverty once they are in poverty) <--- those myths are all
•Individual attributes – physical disabilities or schizophreni
•Individual attitudes (blaming the victim)– low self-esteem, lack of achievement motivation
•social organization of society (subsystems) – the organization of our economy etc...
•social policies – working as mininum wage for a year and you'd still be poor (this creates a
group of working poor)
•tax systems – "robin hood" effect of progressive income taxes. (welfare state)
•Ways of thinking, ideological perspectives (undervaluing of the ways of life of some people).
•Global Inequality: differences in the economic ranking of countries.
•Cross-national variations in internal stratification: differences among countries in their
stratification systems. (Country A and country B are equally rich but insie country A, the
gap between rich and poor is greater than inside country B)
•Angola – poorest country on earth. ($7800 average income, 50% population are unemployed
or underemployed, 70% poverty rate, life expectancy = 38years)
•Gini Index: is a measure of income inequality. Its value ranges from zero (which means that
every household earns exactly the same amount of money) to one (which means that all
income is earned by a single household).
•United States have the highest Gini index (0.45), while Sweden is the lowest (0.25)
Development and Internal Stratification
•90 000 years ago,there were no rich and poor. The good hunters and the bad hunters hunted
together to ensure the survival of the whole clan.
Horicultural (using of tools to cultivate plants) and Pastoral Societies (domesticating animals)
•horticulture (the use of small han tools to cultivate plants) and pastoralism (the
domestication of animals) created social stratification. The villagers that controlled the
surplus (more than what they needed) were of higher status.
Agrarian Societies (medieval)
•5000 years ago (kings and queens time), stratification was based more on ascription (the
features that the person was born with – son of the king, or landlord) than achievement (the
person's own accomplishments).
•Another way of saying the above, is that social mobility took place (movement up or down
the stratification system)
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