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Chapter 1

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University of Toronto St. George
Lorne Tepperman

SOC102H1-Social Inequalities Lecture 1: What is social inequality?  Inequality: - Life is not fair, uncertainty - Birth – people who start rich will finish rich, people who start off being poor will finish being poor - Main questions in Sociology include:  How does social inequality work?  How does social order govern?  Organize society in a better way, just satisfy members of the society - Inequality results in negative consequences for society as a whole  Inequality: Why some people always win? - Being unequal - Sociological ways  A is bigger than B; B is bigger than A; A is richer than B; B is richer than A, etc… - Examining the reasons of inequality  Natural Inequality: - “some are bigger than others” – physical attributes - These characteristics make a difference in defining our natural inequalities  Example: Being tall helps you in basketball by intimidating other players - Sociologists believe:  Natural inequalities become social inequalities  What they do with their natural inequalities is a question to be discussed  No one performs to their natural inequalities  Tall people don’t have to play basketball  Justification of people – valuable; tall vs. short  This hurts some people but benefits others  The Examples of Beauty - Natural inequality – features valued in our society versus other features - “Why do people reward beauty over intelligence?” - “How do people perform their beauty?”  Intersection of Inequalities: - Class, gender, race and age; influential on people’s well-being - Various sources – economy, the state, religion, culture  Intersectionality: - People in disadvantaged conditions may find it hard to share a common identity and band together for political action - Sociology- generalize, lead to general theories  Habits of Inequality Theory - All societies – display social inequality of varying kinds (race, sex, creed, colour) - Socially constructed – imagined on the basis of a supposedly important natural difference (sex, skin colour)  Inequality: Harmful Consequences - Negative consequences of social inequality is considered to be disadvantages to society - Extreme forms of inequality  Societies Vary in Social Inequality - Societies vary in degree and kinds of social inequality - How much does Canada tolerate? - Correlates to the inequality habit  Related to other cultural patterns  Traditional, religion, militarism (dedication to army), parochialism (patriotic)  Cultural Habits - Social inequality display similar patterns - “S,N,P,N,S”  S=Social Differentiation o Identifying different kinds of social constructions  N=Narratives of Blame o Social constructions o Why these differences translate to inequality? o Culturally shared o Derive from belief that world is in differentiation  P=Practices of Opposition o Disadvantaged groups often suffer from more than one of these practices of oppression  N=Narratives of Validation o Response to narratives of blame  Example: Narrative; “homosexuals are not good parents and are not allowed to adopt children because they will turn them into homosexuals” ; validation-no research therefore cannot oppress o Disadvantaged usually blame other people  S=Strategies of Resistance o Combat practices of oppression o Undo the offence of inequality  Continuing Strategy - Continuing struggle between Narratives of Blame, Narratives of Validation, Practices of Opposition and Strategies of Resistance - One form of struggle energizes another form of struggle  Rousseau’s Theory of Inequality - Reasoning of French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau - Discusses difference between natural inequality versus social inequality - He wrote about his theory in a contest which he decided to enter in - Discussed the difference between natural (health, beauty) versus social inequality (moral, political) 
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