Textbook Notes (368,125)
Canada (161,663)
Sociology (1,513)
SOC101Y1 (470)
Chapter 6

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Robert Brym

Chapter 6: Social Stratification  Persistent patterns of social inequality with society  Gap between earning of average Canadian worker and earnings of top CEOs was more than 4x as high in 2007 than 1995 Stratification: A cornerstone of Sociology  The manner in which valued resources (wealth, power, prestige) are distributed and the way which advantages of wealth, power and prestige are passed from generation to generation  Inequalities in wealth can threaten social stability o Poor resenting the wealthy o Demanding more equality  Inequalities in power can be used to maintain social order o Powerful corporations lobbying provincial governments for changes in labour laws making it more difficult for unions to organize company employees o Less democratic countries: control of police and military lead to quick and violent suppression of unrest among the masses  Essential for studying social change, since it is stratification that is changing o Changing gender roles  Women in power Social Hierarchies in Stratified Societies  In one form or another exists in all societies  Very pronounced  Basic skills seldom the foundation of primary social hierarchies  Cross-cultural variations Ascribed and Achieved status  Status: rank or position that a person has within a social hierarchy  Ascribed: assigned at birth, function of race, gender, age and other factors that are not chosen or earned and cannot be changed  Achieved: position in hierarchy has been achieved by virtue of how well someone performs in some role  Stratification system achieved status more preferable o Meritocracy o Exhibit a considerable degree of social mobility Open and Closed Stratification Systems  Canada=open stratification system o Merit rather than inheritance determine social rank and in which social change is therefore possible o No aristocracy  India=closed stratification o Caste system  Nevertheless, discrimination against Aboriginals and visible minorities continues to occur in Canada o Also gays, women, seniors, disabilities o Lower status positions not because they competed poorly, but because of who they are  Do advantages of birth play part in success of rich children?  Does downsizing reflect failure to compete in an open, merit-based stratification system? Class Structure  Women earn on average 25% less than men  Older women are more likely to be living in poverty  Members of visible minorities more likely to be unemployed  Class=indicate position of individual or family within an economic hierarchy along with others who have roughly the same amount of control over or access to economic or material resources  Class structure= refer to overall economic hierarchy comprising all such classes, choosing structure to indicate relative stability and prominence of this social ranking  Pronounced patters of material inequality exist in our society and overlap with most other dimensions of social stratification  Economic hierarchy not completely closed, but relatively stable and permanent and it comprises some fairly distinct categories of individuals with similar amounts of control over material resources Explanations of Social Stratification Karl Marx  Immense impact on how we think about social stratification  Born in Germany 1818, lived in England 1849-death (1883)  Writing focuses on the rapidly changing European world he observed  Industrial capitalism was transforming economy and society o Mechanized, factory-based system of production o Growing cities, rural to city  Material inequality huge  Industrial Revolution was a time when both the level of production and degree of inequality in society increased tremendously Modes of Production and Social Class  Mode of production=overall system of economic activity in society o Major components mode of production and social relations of production  2 major class o Capitalist (bourgeoisie)  Owned means of production o Proletariat (working class)  Exchanged labour for wages o Middle class (petite bourgeoisie)  Independent owners  Marx expected them to disappear  Surplus value= value of goods produced by wage labourer far exceeded amount needed to pay wages and the cost of raw materials, technology and other factors of production Class Conflict and Class Consciousness  Class conflict driving force behind Marx’s theory of social change o Previous modes of production collapsed and been replaced because of class conflict o Capitalism replaced by socialist mode of production  Revolution would only take place when working class began to recognize they were being exploited Responses to Marx  Communist countries inequality had not disappeared o New hierarchy emerged o Control of political and bureaucratic main basis of power Max Weber: Class and other dimensions of inequality  Shared with Marx belief that economic inequalities central to social stratification system and that ownership of property was a primary determinant of power  Argued power could lie in controlling other types of resources as well  Proposed structures of social stratification could be better understood by looking economic inequalities, hierarchies of prestige and political inequalities o Class, status and party  Provided an insightful analysis of how power resided in the control of top positions in large bureaucratic organizations, even if the officeholder was not owner of the organization  Recognized that well-educated wage-labourers might not be as powerless as were the factory workers of an earlier era  Expected that number of educated technical and professional workers in bureaucratic capitalist society would increase  Did not link inequality and class conflict to the ultimate demise of capitalism Social Class and Life Chances  Weber defined class more broadly o Based on both ownership of property, occupation, education o Emphasize life-chances that class position offers th Davis and Moore: A functional theory of stratification 20 century affluence and structural functionalist theory  19445: Kingsley Davis and Wilbert Moore  Structural functionalist theory: emphasizes consensus over conflict and that seeks to explain the function for society as a whole of f social institutions and various aspects of social structure  Downplayed conflict and emphasized the benefits to all of an expanding economy Functional Necessity of Stratification  Davis and Moore argue that because inequality exists in all societies it so must be necessary  All societies have a variety of occupational roles that need to be filled  To get people to fill important roles and to spend the time training for these roles, societies must ensure that the rewards (money etc.) are greater  Social inequality is both inevitable and functionally necessary for society  Not class based and conflict-prone stratification system o Much more fluid socioeconomic hierarchy o Many different occupational status into which individuals are slotted on the basis of their effort and ability o System held together by consensus and shared values because members of society generally agree that the hierarchy is fair and just o Follows that efforts to reduce social inequality will be ineffective and might even be harmful to society Criticisms of Davis and Moore  Are the huge pay inequalities necessary?  Women earning less than men  Are celebrities, CEOs etc. with million dollar salaries more important than nurses?  How does theory account for inherited wealth? Gerhard Lenski: Technology and Social Stratification  1960s: time of economic expansion  Developed theory of “power and privilege” o Attempted to explain the extent of material inequality in both contemporary and past societies o Recognized power and conflict much more explicitly than Davis and Moore o Identified a number of different dimensions of social stratification  Education, ethnicity o Emphasized centrality of economic inequality  Talked about ruling elites in society in general terms and about how they managed to maintain their wealth and power at the expense of the masses  Reasoned societies technological base largely determines the degree of inequality within it o As societies became more technologically complex, resources in excess of those require
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