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Chapter 6

SOC101Y1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 6: Wilbert E. Moore, Kingsley Davis, Gerhard Lenski

Course Code
Robert Brym

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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
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

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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
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
Pronounced patters of material inequality exist in our society and overlap with
most other dimensions of social stratification

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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
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