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Chapter 2

SOC102H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Social Inequality, Main Source, Symbolic Interactionism

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January 18
Class, Poverty and Economic Inequality
-economic inequality – large differences in income and wealth across individuals and groups
within a society; differences in the economic power of nations
-classes are groups of people who share a common economic condition, interests or relationship to
the means of production
-in this system, employers may take steps to prevent the formation of unions or discussions of
worker concerns
olegislators pass laws that give the employer more power
opolice/military used to break strikes
oworkers may be reluctant to share a common cause with people of different racial or
ethnic groups
-workplaces, where the classes meet, are contested terrains (Richard Edwards)
oworkers and bosses struggle for control
-Marx realized that oppressed classes can bring about change only after they become aware of their
position in relation to the ruling class
-some have argued that inequalities in a modern, democratic society are chiefly based on the
agreement about the value of different jobs
ofunctional theory of stratification, credited to Davis and Moore
maintains that most people in most industrial societies agree about the relative
social value of particular roles
this theory fails to explain several facts:
cannot explain why the difference between top-paid and bottom-paid
workers is wide or narrow
does not explain why the range of salaries is much wider in one capitalist
country than it is in others
does not address why some people get high salaries regardless of whether
they confer a social benefit
-social mobility the movement of individuals from one social class to another during the course
of ones lifetime
ohas its limits in a capitalist society
middle 80% of all income earners, plenty of mobility
education makes this possible
Measuring Poverty
-viewed in 2 ways
oabsolute poverty lack of the basic necessities (food, shelter, medicine) for basic
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orelative poverty survival, but far below the general living standards of the society or
social group in which the poor live
-poverty lineit represented a usual standard of living and deferens across countries
odisagreement about how to measure poverty
ountil recently, Statistics Canada relied on two methods to measure poverty
low-income cut-offs (LICOs)based on the percentage of income devoted to
daily necessities such as food, shelter and clothing and determined both
regionally and by population
not equivalent to poverty lines
low-income measures (LIMs)a set of figured representing 50 percent of the
median adjusted family income, which is based on a consideration of the
varying needs of families of differing sizes
categorized according to the number of adults and children present in
oa third alternative measure:
market-basket measuredesigned to define and measure poverty in absolute,
not relative terms
based on an imaginary basket of market-priced goods and services and
on the income needed to purchase the items in the basket
determined by bureaucrats who exclude necessities such as transportation
and entertainment
Measuring Well-Being and Inequality
-human development index (HDI)a combined measure of achievement in three basic areas: a
long and healthy life (as measured by life expectancy at birth), knowledge (as measured by adult
and youth literacy), and standard of living (as measured by the natural logarithm of the gross
domestic product [GDP] per capita).
ohowever, does not reflect accurately in well developed countries
-second variant of the human poverty index (HPI-2)assesses relative deprivation in these
same dimensions: vulnerability to premature death (as measured by the likelihood at birth of not
surviving to age 60), exclusion from reading and communications (as measured by adult literacy),
a deprived standard of living (as measured by the percentage of the population living below the
income poverty line) and social exclusion (as measured by the rate of long-term unemployment).
owhen this measure is applied, Canadas ranking falls to 9th in the world
-Gini coefficient
owidely accepted measure of income inequality
perfect score of 0 reflects total income equality
score of 1 reflects total income inequality
oCanada has a Gini index of 0.32/0.33
Poverty in Canada
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