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Lecture Seven Social Stratification: The growing gap between the have and the have-nots.

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Presentation on theme: "Lecture Seven Social Stratification: The growing gap between the have and the have-nots."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lecture Seven Social Stratification: The growing gap between the have and the have-nots

2 Understanding Social Structure & Inequality System of Stratification: individuals and groups are ranked according to their group’s social category and given unequal access to rewards and resources in society Systems of stratification emerge as social categories of difference that are socially constructed in society are given meaning through our social interactions  These social categories create structures of privilege and disadvantage in society

3 Caste System : Closed Stratification In caste systems social status is bestowed for life with rigid social positions that provide limited social mobility Apartheid South Africa ( ) is a modern example of a caste system based on race  The rules of Apartheid dictated that people be legally classified into racial groups-- the main ones were Black, White, Coloured and Indian – with unequal rights. Education, housing, medical care, employment, and voting rights were segregated

4 Apartheid South Africa Blacks legally became citizens of one of ten homelands that were nominally sovereign nations and were forced to reside in these areas Education, medical care, and other public services were segregated, and those available to Black people were of an inferior standard

5 City of Johannesburg in South Africa: White Dominated

6 Soweto Township: A Black Homeland in South Africa

7 Legacy of Apartheid in Democratic South Africa The many years of Apartheid created a legacy of racial inequality in South Africa that greatly affects the country today South Africa has one of the highest rates of income inequality in the world The white South African minority tends to be considerably wealthier than the rest of the population  Statistics South Africa reported that in 1995 the average white household earned 4 times as much as the average African household  In 2000 the average white household was earning 6 times the average African household

8 Class System: Open Stratification In contrast to a caste system, we also see what is called a class system, whereby positions in the system of stratification are based on economics and achievement  Social mobility and advancement is open to everyone  People are ranked on the basis of achieved characteristics – merit, talent, ability, past performance  Inequality is not systematic, like it is in a caste-system. Not based on skin color, gender, age or other ascribed characteristics…

9 Is the US a Class or Caste System? Most American’s believe that we live in a pure class system: According to a 2000 NYT poll 85% of American’s believe “it is possible in America to pretty much be who you want to be”. However, when we examine the system of stratification and inequality in American society we see that our class position is generally determined by BOTH our individual hard work and intelligence as well as characteristics (such as race and gender) that we have no control over

10 US: Mixed-class System Even though we believe that we are pure class system, we are a mixed class system, whereby both ascribed and achieved characteristics determine class position in society Ascribed characteristics: race, gender, immigrant status, geography, sexual orientation Achieved characteristics:, initiative, determination, intelligence

11 Opportunity in a Mixed-Class System Looking at social stratification in a mixed- class system we can examine the opportunity structure, which determines the opportunities that are available to different individuals and groups depending on their position in the overall social structure of society  Those who are born at the top and the bottom of the opportunity structure are more likely to stay in the same class position throughout their lives

12 American Opportunity Structure Resources for Social Mobility Wealth High Income Good Neighborhood Good Schools Good Jobs Access to Health Care ↑ ↓ → →

13 Economic Mobility The American opportunity structure – options for social mobility – are largely determined by individual and group access to economic resources Resources such as income and wealth enable individuals to access good neighborhoods, good schools, good jobs, and therefore higher income and wealth

14 What affects our access to economic resources? In a mixed-class system, our access to economic resources is largely determined by our master status position, which is a social category that takes priority over all other positions and usually determine ones position in the system of stratification Master status positions in American society are socially constructed categories such as race/ethnicity and gender

15 Race: An American Master Status Position? Devorah Pager, a sociologist at Princeton University asked the following questions in her study:  Does race matter when ex-felons are looking for jobs? Beginning in February 2004, Pager sent 13 white, black and Latino men posing as ex-convicts to more than 3,500 job interviews throughout the city, most of them in Manhattan. Saying they had completed only high school, they applied for a broad spectrum of jobs, from couriers to cashiers, deli clerks to telemarketers. What her study found is that the achieved status position of “Felon” could not override the ascribed status position of “Black Male” in the job market.

16 The Color of Opportunity What Pager’s study found is that:  Black men whose job applications stated that they had spent time in prison were only about one-third as likely as white men with similar applications to get a positive response.  "It takes a black ex-offender three times as long to receive a callback or a job offer," said Devah Pager  However, most astonishing was that they found that White men who are ex-felons are more likely to be hired that Black men without a criminal record

17 A growing problem of Inequality? Pager’s study is critically important to understand the system of stratification and the opportunity structure in American society, especially as more people than ever before in are under correctional control in the US We now have more than 7 million people under correctional control or 1 in 31 Americans  However, black men are more likely to be incarcerated than any other social group

18 Under Correctional Control

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20 Barriers to Mobility? Master status positions (which are ascribed) lead to social exclusion, whereby individuals and social groups are cut off from mechanisms that allow social mobility in a society Income/wealth are the main lubricants of social mobility in American society, however we see that their distribution in becoming increasingly unequal

21 Polarization of Income and Wealth in 2002 Income: economic gain from wages (or rent)  Top 20% = 50% of total income  Bottom 20% = 4% of total income Wealth: value of all economic assets – property, income, income generating property  0.5% own 35% of nations wealth  90% at bottom own 28% of national wealth Increasing gap between the rich and poor  Ratio of CEO-worker pay in 2005 was 262 to 1; while in 1965 it was 24 to 1

22 Black/White Wealth Gap As the wealth/income gap grows we see a growing “equity inequity” between racial and ethnic groups Average white family has a net worth 7 times that of the average Black family  This gap has grown since the 1960’s when the Civil Rights Movement brought about political equality The wealth gap accounts for many of the racial differences in socioeconomic achievement  When economic resources are equal, the wage and education gap between Whites and Blacks disappears

23 Who is most likely to be in Poverty? 58% of Americans will live poverty for at least 1 year  1 in 3 will experience extreme poverty for at least one year  27% will experience poverty before age 30 Higher rates of poverty among non-whites  White- 8%  Black – 25%  Hispanic – 22%  American Indian – 25%

24 Feminization of Poverty Women are disproportionately represented among the poor  More likely to be in low-pay service jobs  Women still make $0.76 for every man’s dollar 42% of female-headed households are in poverty, compared to 9% of two-parent families  Children are more likely to live in poverty than adults – 35% of US poor are children

25 Where do we go from here? We see a shrinking middle-class in our mixed-class system of stratification as the gap between the rich and poor grows  However, we see that the burden of poverty and inequality is not shared equally among all racial/ethnic groups nor men and women As our country is currently debating how to rebuild our economy we can consider where exactly our consumer economy (and therefore consumer culture) has brought us today and if this reflects our true American values  How shall we rebuild and who should our economy work for?


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