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Chapter 198-228

SOC101Y1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 198-228: Ascribed Status, Social Stratification, Achieved Status

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Sheldon Ungar

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Class, Work, and Economy
November 4TH 2015
Volume 1 p. 198-228
Social Stratification: persistent patterns of social inequality within society
Sociologists study social stratification, the manner that wealth, power, and
prestige are distributed and the way in which advantages are passed from
generation to generation
The cornerstone of sociology
Inequalities in wealth can threaten social stability (the poor hating the
wealthy, and for example, demanding more equality)
Inequalities in power can be used to maintain social order
Changing social stratification is shown through women moving into positions
of power and authority in North America
Social Hierarchies in Stratified Societies
Status: the rank or position that a person has within a social hierarchy
Ascribed status: assigned to individuals typically at birth, it can be your
gender, race, and age
Achieved status: a position in a hierarchy that has been achieved by virtue
of how well someone performs in some role, this can be your career
Meritocracy: a society in which most or all statuses are achieved on the
basis of merit (how well a person performs in a given role)
o Equal chance to compete for higher status and those most capable
would be rewarded the highest rank
o Such society would show social mobility, the process whereby
people, families, or other groups move up or down a status hierarchy
Open and Closed Stratification Systems
Open Stratification System: where merit instead of inheritance (or ascribed
characteristics) determines social rank and in which social change is possible
Closed Stratification System: a stratification system in which little or no social
mobility occurs because most or all statuses are ascribed
Caste system: a closed stratification system, most common in India, with
strict rules regarding the type of work that members of different castes
strata you’re born into can do
Compared with India, Canada has more chances for upward social mobility
which shows a more open stratification system
Some people are in lower status positions not because they competed poorly
for some higher ranking in the social hierarchy, but because they are gay, old,
have disabilities, are female, or of different race
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Social Class
Class: the position of an individual or a family within an economic hierarchy, along
with others who have roughly the same amount of control over or access to economic
or material resources
On average, women make about 75% of what men earn
Class structure: overall economic hierarchy comprising all such classes,
choosing the word structure to show the stability and permanence of this
social ranking
Socioeconomic status: refers to a person’s general status within an
economic hierarchy, based on income, education, and occupation
Capitalism, Exploitation, and Class Conflict Karl Marx
Marx called the system of economic activity in a society its mode of
production. Major components include:
Means of production (technology, capital investments, raw materials)
Social relations of production (the relationships between the main classes
involved in production)
o Ex. slavery in earlier times, feudalism (peasants worked for
landowners for share of the produce) which gave way to industrial
capitalism in Europe
Three major classes:
Bourgeoisie capital class: owned the means of production
Proletariat working class: exchanged its labour for wages
Petite bourgeoisie middle class: combined independent owners/producers (ex.
farmers) and small business owners
Marx reasoned that the value of a product sold was directly proportional to
the average amount of labour needed to produce it
o Ex. fancy furniture more valuable than its component pieces b/c of the
labour invested in it by its workers who made it
Surplus value: the value of goods in excess of the cost of production, which
takes the form of profit when the product is sold
o When commodities were sold, their surplus value turned into profits
for the owner
o Exploitive relationship
Class conflict: a conflict between major classes within a mode of production and
eventually leads to the evolution of a new mode of production
Marx thought that capitalism would eventually be replaced by a socialist
mode of production, in which ownership of property would disappear along
with the exploitation and inequality it produced
Class consciousness: the recognition by members of a class of their shared
interests in opposition to members of another class
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