Presentation on theme: "Chapter 7: Stratification, Class, and Inequality"— Presentation transcript:
1 Chapter 7: Stratification, Class, and Inequality Today we’ll begin talking about stratification, which is, basically, inequality. To start, it is important to recognize that the study of stratification is at the heart of American sociology. Inequality grounded in economics, race, gender, and other social forms has been central to what sociology is about here, and that continues to be the case. In this chapter in your textbook you are introduced to some of the basic forms of stratification, and also to notions of social class and economic inequality. So what are some of the big questions we’ll be covering?What exactly is stratification?How important and relevant is it today?What causes social inequality?What are the effects of systems of inequality?Chapter 7: Stratification, Class, and Inequality
2 Social stratification Social stratification is structured inequality between groups.This inequality may be based on economics, gender, race, religion, age, or another factorWhat is at play is power.Let’s begin by clarifying what stratification really is. Stratification is a way of dividing people up into vertical or hierarchical layers, where those at the top have the most power. Systems of stratification are those where social structures hold certain groups in ranked order and where it is difficult, if not impossible, to change that order.As such, you can likely imagine several bases for stratification—which, according to what I’ve just told you, amounts to structured inequality—including economics, gender, race, age, occupation, and more. Despite the obvious differences between such systems of inequality, what’ is at stake for the most part is power: who has it, who does not, whether this can change, and so on.
3 Characteristics of stratification systems Systems of inequality are organized around groups with a shared characteristic.The social location of a group is significant in terms of the life chances of members.Rankings of groups change only very slowly.One of the important things to note about systems of stratification is that they primarily rank groups. Members of groups sometimes exceed (or fail to meet) expectations, but that does not change the reality that rankings refer to groups. This idea is often a tough sell in the United States, given our strongly held ideal of individualism, but when we look at the way our society is organized, differentials between certain socioeconomic groups, racial groups, and even birth cohorts are significant at the group level. As a result, we must study stratification as a group, not individual, concern.It is worth noting that much of this interest in stratification stems from the fact that systems of inequality are very slow to change and members of different groups have different motivations and experiences that factor into their attitudes and understandings of inequality.3
4 Three basic models Slavery—ownership of certain people Caste—status for lifeClass—positions based on economicsHistorically speaking, there are three major types of systems of social stratification: slavery, caste, and class. Let me briefly describe each type.1. In slave systems, some peoples are considered less than human and are owned as property. Their legal rights are limited, certain relationships are prohibited, and as you might imagine, and social power is essentially nonexistent.2. In caste systems, societal groupings are based on deeply held cultural ideals and boundaries. The Indian caste system exemplifies this societal form of stratification, having both cultural and economic impacts. Caste systems are rigidly based. They are characterized by hereditary status, endogamy, and social barriers and are sanctioned by custom, law, and religion.3. Class systems are the stratification system we are familiar with. People are divided according to economic markers such as income, wealth, ownership, and so on. There are many different characterizations of what constitutes class, and we will be talking about these characterizations today.4
5 Class systems In modern societies, class systems dominate. While class systems do allow for social mobility, opportunities are not evenly distributed across social groups.Class has a significant impact on many aspects of life, including education, occupation, place of residence, marriage partner, and more.With the onset of modernity, which included massive population movement and shifting forms of work and life, we saw a shift toward class-based systems of stratification. As I’ve said, these systems are largely concerned with economic indicators, as opposed to more permanent, unchangeable social characteristics. Even so, we do see a strong relationship between members of certain social categories or groups and location in a class system. Because class has a strong impact on many life outcomes and choices, what this means is that members of certain groups will have fewer life chances than members of other groups. We like to believe that class systems offer everyone the same opportunities, but as you will see throughout today’s material—and the rest of the course, for that matter—this simply is not the case.5
7 How do stratification systems look today? In modern, industrialized societies, there is little overt support for rigid systems of inequality.Remaining caste systems appear to be transitioning into class systems.From the time of World War II to the 1970s, class boundaries appeared to soften, but they have been hardening since the 1970s.It does indeed appear that with modern, industrialized societies as the model of today’s nations, class systems are the most common form. This certainly does not mean that other forms of stratification do not exist, but it does mean that formal or official caste or race-based systems, and certainly slave systems, are no longer acceptable. One could claim that in certain parts of the world a gender-based caste system persists, but that is an argument for another day.Countries like India, which until fairly recently had legally sanctioned caste systems, have shifted dramatically as they have fully entered the modern economy.In the United States, we have the troubling trend whereby class lines were increasingly blurring up until the 1970s, but are now clearer once again. Changes in the economy certainly play a role, as do policy choices, which often reflect American ideologies favoring limited government, low taxes, and individualism.
8 Marx and class conflict Karl Marx was very interested in class relations in capitalist societies.Class was determined solely by one’s relation to the means of production.Proletariat and bourgeoisieGroup membership utterly determined life chances.Ultimately the proletariat would overthrow the bourgeoisie, ending the reign of capitalism.For Marx, class was determined solely by the relationship of a group to the means of production. What this means is that you either owned the factories and the equipment or you did not. You were either a member of the capitalist class (the bourgeoisie) or you were a worker (the proletariat).This group membership determined how much power an individual would have; it determined wealth; it determined everything. Being a capitalist or a worker determined one’s life chances.For Marx, class was based entirely on economic indicators, and he identified two basic trends:- He saw a two-tiered society of haves and have nots.- He predicted a widening gap between the two levels.Marx also believed, as part of a grander theory of history, that ultimately the workers would overthrow the capitalists and the system would shift to socialism and eventually communism.
9 Weber: Class and status For Max Weber, position in a stratification system was not based on economics alone: social status was also significant.Weber’s multidimensional approach is attractive to those who believe that social prestige and power can be independent of economics.For Weber, class is not just about economic factors, it is also about power and prestige. Remember, Weber was often seen as writing in tension with the ghost of Marx, and this is one of the instances where this is most apparent. Weber had a three-fold approach:Wealth (property)—economic factors; group with similar life chances; those in the same class are likely to have similar biographies.Prestige—amount of social prestige, which can be based on family, region, occupation, race, religion, gender, and similar factors. This measure of class is really about social esteem: how do others think of you? For Weber, the stratification system was based on wealth and prestige, and while the two are correlated, they are not always the same.Power—the third part of Weber’s model of stratification incorporates the ability to carry out one’s intentions on society; this measure is less often correlated with the first two, but still constitutes an important measure of social inequality.Let’s come up with a few examples where these things don’t line up.One reason why many sociologists appreciate Weber’s model is that it recognizes that systems of inequality are multidimensional, and to be high on one scale does not guarantee that you will be high on another.9
10 Functionalist approaches Functionalist theorists attempt to understand what role inequality plays in keeping society at equilibrium.Davis and Moore (1945) argued that stratification benefited society by ensuring that the most important roles would be filled by the most talented and worthy people.Very often, after talking about Marx and Weber on inequality, there’s a bit of pause before going to the functionalists. This is largely because for many functionalists, there is a firm belief that for better or worse, like so many other social forms and structures, inequality is functional: it plays a role.Kingsley David and Wilbert Moore put forward what became the hallmark functionalist position on social stratification. Essentially, they argued that inequality was necessary to ensure that the most important and complex roles would be filled by the most meritorious individuals. They were outlining the case for inequality via meritocracy, wherein social position was based on talent, skill, and hard work.The problem some sociologists have with this approach is that it ignores the importance of group-level analysis when looking at inequality.
11 What is social class? Social class is some mixture of: Wealth Income EducationOccupationOK; having discussed several theoretical perspectives on class and inequality, let’s get to what sociologists are thinking of when they ask research questions. Typically, when we think of social class we are referring to some combination of wealth, income, educational attainment, and occupation. In other words: how much did you start with, how much do you earn, how far did you go in school, and what kind of work do you do?There are definitely other factors that can be added in to further consider where class originates. For example, some researchers ask questions about people’s parents (education, jobs, income, etc.), place of residence, amount in savings versus spending, and other indicators along these lines.You will sometimes hear researchers use socioeconomic status instead of class, a term that points to the multidimensionality of class but also tends to obscure the presence of clear social classes.
12 Race and wealthThough race is not an actual component of class, there is a clear intersection.Research shows that non-whites generally have less wealth and education than other social groups.Non-whites are also much more likely to experience discrimination when buying homes.When we think about wealth—which, again, is one of the core indicators of class—we can see very clearly the intersection between race and class.There is, for example, a huge discrepancy in net financial assets (wealth) between whites, blacks, and Latinos; your text indicates a median difference of over $150,000 between whites and blacks. Obviously, that difference in resources means differences in outcomes such as educational and occupational attainment, and the research bears this out, with non-whites having lower amounts of both.There are, of course, exceptions to the statement that non-whites have less wealth and education, but the reality is that there is a very obvious connection between race or ethnicity and wealth. To ignore this by focusing only on individuals’ accomplishments or failures is to miss ongoing group-level inequality.12
15 Occupational prestige Occupation Rank (1 = most prestigious; 16 = least prestigious) Accountant _________________________________ Cab driver _________________________________ Carpenter _________________________________ Classical musician _________________________________ Electrical engineer _________________________________ Garbage collector _________________________________ Journalist _________________________________ Physician _________________________________ Police officer _________________________________ Real estate agent _________________________________ Registered nurse _________________________________ Secretary _________________________________ Shoe shiner _________________________________ Social worker _________________________________ Sociologist _________________________________ Waiter or waitress _________________________________[Have students rank these occupations in their notes, with 1 being the highest ranking and 16 being the lowest.]
16 The rankings Physician Electrical engineer Sociologist Accountant Registered nurseClassical musicianPolice officerJournalistSocial workerSecretaryReal estate agentCarpenterCab driverWaiter or waitressGarbage collectorShoe shinerBased on models created by researchers dealing with stratification, these are the actual rankings of the occupations you just thought about. It is important to note that the highest ranking jobs tend to be those that require the most education.
17 The American middle class The United States understands itself as a middle-class society.This fits with strongly held ideologies, including classlessness, meritocracy, and the work ethic.Middle-class ideologies tend to promote the reproduction of inequality.Let’s think a little bit, for a moment, about how Americans view social class. How many of you would say you are middle class? [In most cases this will be the vast majority of students, regardless of the demographics of your institution; if not you can discuss!] Most Americans believe they are middle class. In part this is very simple and clear logic: we all know people with a lot more than us and most of us know plenty of people with less. That leaves us in the middle.We also think we are middle class because we do not necessarily think about the mathematics of class systems (quartiles, quintiles, etc.), but instead focus on lifestyles, incomes, and similar factors, which does, in fact, make us a middle-class society. Since the 1970s, however, that has been changing as the gap between rich and poor has increased, reducing the size of the middle class.Interestingly, those in the middle classes are very likely—at least in good economic times—to identify with ideologies that in fact reproduce our own system of stratification. Those in the middle class tend to believe that if we made it to this hallowed place in American society, others can too, provided they just work hard enough. In fact. however, this simply isn’t the case, especially for those living in real poverty, with very few opportunities. We’ll get to poverty in just a few moments.
18 Social mobilitySocial mobility is the movement of people up or down the stratification system.Class systems allow for more movement than slave or caste systems.Even so, it remains quite difficult to achieve upward, intergenerational social mobility.An important characteristic of class systems, as opposed to slave or caste systems, is that in class-based systems of stratification, there is the opportunity for social mobility. This means that people and groups can, potentially, move up or down in the rankings, and this is seen by many as a significant benefit of class systems.In reality, however, such mobility is less common than our national mythology suggests. Typically, those who arrive at high positions have families who either had high positions themselves or the resources to provide the appropriate education for advancement. Achieving upward mobility is very difficult, and the wonderful stories we’ve all heard and seen (think, for example, of the movie The Pursuit of Happyness) are so very moving because they are the exception, not the norm. If such stories were common, they would not get our attention in nearly the same way.18
19 PovertyDespite the wealth of resources and opportunities in the United States, poverty remains a significant social problem.Sociologists discuss two general types of poverty: absolute poverty and relative poverty.I suspect that much of our sense that social mobility is imminently possible for everyone may be the result of a kind of denial of poverty. Most middle-class Americans have little, if any, contact with those here in the United States who are truly impoverished. And since most people understand the world vis-à-vis their own experiences and poverty is virtually invisible to us, it becomes easy to either ignore or demonize.Sociologists, who have long studied poverty, talk about two basic types:- Absolute poverty, meaning a person literally cannot feed him- or herself in a reasonable way.- Relative poverty, a measure relative to a decent standard of living in a given society.In the United States, we are typically talking about relative poverty, though there are cases of absolute poverty. We should not diminish the significance of relative poverty; living without basic amenities such as health care or running water certainly constitutes a social problem in a society with as many resources as the United States. As a society, we have to decide whether it is acceptable to allow such conditions to go on.Absolute poverty is more likely to refer to conditions in developing societies.19
20 Poverty in the United States A full 12.5 percent of the population in 2007 was in poverty (more than 37 million people); this is the highest rate among the major industrialized nations.One-third of these people is working.Poverty is calculated using a formula from the 1960s, whereby the poverty line is based on an income three times the cost of monthly groceries.So here are a couple of basic numbers:percent of our population lives in poverty, where poverty is based on the government-designated “poverty line”—this is the highest rate among peer nations- this is more than 37 million people- one-third of these people are working; disproportionately these are non-white and/or immigrant- nearly 20 percent are childrenWe should think, for a moment, about how the poverty line is calculated. In the 1960s, when food made up a third of the typical family’s budget, it was decided that the value of nourishing food for a family multiplied by three made sense as a guideline for demarcating poverty. Today, when food makes up a much smaller portion of the budget, there is a lot of concern that this formula is no longer valid. People have many more expenses but often do not qualify as living in poverty. Housing is now by far the largest single expense for most people, but is not taken into account at all.20
21 Why are the poor poor?Poverty is not simply the result of not working hard.Explanations for poverty are diverse.What we know is that low earnings (often based on a low minimum wage) make it very hard to “get ahead.”Also, the poor have less educational attainment, less health insurance, and more broadly, diminished life chances.So why are the poor poor? I’ve addressed some of these things in passing, but let’s attend to them directly.For one thing, there is a huge wealth gap between certain groups: whites and non-whites, men and women, educated and less educated, and so on. That gap carries over into earnings because it affects both educational and occupational attainment. When people are less educated and find themselves in low-wage jobs, life becomes a day-to-day battle to make ends meet. Dreams of getting ahead are lost in the reality of maintaining a home with food on the table. People in low-wage jobs are also less likely to have good benefits packages, which means that quite often if they get sick, not only are they out of work, but they are unable to afford the medical care they need. The cycle is devastating.Obviously, there are many paths to poverty, but the most typical is simply to start there. For enormous numbers of people, the road blocks to getting out of poverty are overwhelming, yet society often blames them for their situation.21
22 Gender and povertySociologists often discuss what is called the feminization of poverty.Because of social changes, including divorce and the increasing normalization of single-parenting, there are more female-headed households today than throughout modern U.S. history.Of these families, 28 percent were poor in 2007.The feminization of poverty has been an increasingly significant social problem here in the United States. Trends in family life, among others, have clearly contributed to this pattern. Women are the fastest growing group in poverty, and most often, they have children. This, of course, means that huge numbers of children in the United States are living in poverty. With divorce rates remaining high and a still-increasing trend of out-of-wedlock births, huge numbers of women are raising children on their own. As you can well imagine, the expenses are vast.Following a divorce, for example, a man’s standard of living increases, while a woman’s (and accordingly the children’s) declines dramatically. Much of this has to with the fact that, astoundingly, less than half of fathers contribute any support for their non-residential children, and it is incredibly difficult for women—especially single women trying to work and raise children—to fight them for it.For all single moms, perhaps the biggest dilemma is how to take care of child care in order to work. This is true even for middle- and upper-middle-class women, but is much more pressing for poorer women, who have fewer options. This leads some women to accept welfare for some period of time, though after welfare reform in 1996, that source of aid became more limited.22
23 Explanations for poverty Sociologists have many empirical explanations for poverty, but by and large they all fall under one of two themes:Blaming the victim (culture of poverty arguments)Blaming the system (social exclusion, structural arguments)When we try to explain poverty more generally, there are really only two basic trains of thought: either explanations blame the poor person himself or they blame society.In the first vein is the culture of poverty thesis, which holds that poverty, or more specifically a culture that aligns with poverty, is transmitted intergenerationally via socialization. In other words, poor people teach their children how to be poor, and this is what they know. This perspective then finds blame in the pathological culture of the poor.In the second vein we find theories that suggest that the deck is stacked against the poor; these approaches are sometime referred to as social exclusion. They live in neighborhoods with terrible schools, no jobs, high crime rates, and so on. In other words, there are social structures that make it incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to get ahead. These circumstances have an effect on individuals, as they feel a lack of hope and a lack of possibilities, which appears to outside observers like giving up.23
24 Poverty and social problems Social welfare systemsHomelessnessLack of basic medical careEducational segregationPeople turn to non-conventional means to make money.As I mentioned earlier, poverty is often invisible to the majority of Americans. Despite that fact, poverty is related to some of the most significant public policy issues being discussed today. For example, though we have little contact with poor people, Americans are often highly critical of most kinds of social welfare; we complain about panhandlers, illegal drugs, and other types of street crime associated with the poor. Our government recently passed a health care bill that will eventually cover all Americans, and which should alleviate at least one level of difficulty for those living in poverty. We know that differences in schools play a role in future income and occupation, yet largely refuse to discuss the problem of de facto segregation.Now that you are more aware of the reality of poverty here in the United States, perhaps you will think about these social problems, and others, a bit differently and with more context.24
25 Does inequality affect you? The U.S. economy is changing; that means changing jobs, changing wages, and new competition.Inequality has been on the rise for the past three to four decades.We’ve spent a lot of time now talking about inequality, and before we wrap up, I want to spend a couple of minutes thinking about how inequality in the United States is changing and why.Over the past three decades, our economy has shifted from an industrial economy to an information economy. This is a huge shift and has had significant consequences for large numbers of people. Manufacturing jobs have left the country, leaving many typically male industries to cut jobs. Job growth is coming mainly in the “pink” sector of female-typed jobs in service industries.Minimum wage is coming up a bit, but remains inadequate to support a family. The majority of families now require two incomes to achieve the standard of living the previous generation accomplished with one.It is also worth remembering that inequality has been on the rise for the past three to four decades here in the United States. Many sociologists and economists have been studying this phenomenon and will continue to do so, putting all our tools to work to better understand this shift.25
26 Chapter 7: Stratification, Class, and Inequality This wraps up our material on stratification and class here in the United States. Chapter 8 deals with global inequality, so that’s what we will consider next.
27 Clicker Questions1. What is social stratification? a. the existence of structured inequalities between individuals and groups in a society b. a system in which success is based on whom you know. c. a system based on the simple fact that some people are lucky and others are unlucky d. a condition that results when people’s social mobility is hindered, such as in caste or slavery systemsAnswer: ARef: Introduction, p. 18127
28 Clicker Questions2. If someone is poor when compared with the standard of living for most people, he or she experiences a. absolute poverty. b. relative poverty. c. downward mobility. d. structural mobility.Answer: BRef: How Does Poverty Affect Individuals?, p. 202
29 Clicker Questions3. What is the basis of Karl Marx’s theory of class? a. Class is a by-product of the Industrial Revolution. b. Modern societies are divided into those who own the means of production and those who sell their labor. c. People with power will always use it to project their material interests. d. Class is a transitory system of stratification between feudal estates and the classlessness of communist society.Answer: BRef: What Is Social Stratification?, pp. 184–185. The crux of Marx’s theory of class is that in modern societies there are two main classes: those who own the means of production (i.e., industrialists, or capitalists) and those who earn their living by selling their labor to them (i.e., the working class).
30 Clicker Questions4. What term describes the movement of individuals or groups between different social positions? a. social mobility b. social exclusion c. social structure d. vertical advancementAnswer: ARef: What Are the Causes and Consequences of Social Inequality in the United States?, p. 199
31 Clicker Questions5. What did Max Weber add to Karl Marx’s theory of class? a. Weber argued that income was more important than property in determining class standing in modern society. b. Weber argued that marketable skills were as important as property in determining class standing and that status was as important as class as a dimension of stratification in modern society. c. Weber argued that society was much too complex for anything remotely resembling Marx’s historical materialism (his theory of history). d. Weber understood the enduring significance of the middle class.Answer: BRef: What Is Social Stratification?, p Weber argued that class divisions derive not only from control or lack of control of the means of production but from economic differences that have nothing directly to do with property (i.e., people’s skills and credentials, or qualifications). Also, Weber distinguished another aspect of stratification besides class (i.e., “status,” which refers to differences between groups in the prestige they are granted by others).
32 Clicker Questions6. Which of the following systems of stratification permit the least amount of mobility? a. caste b. class c. slavery d. clanAnswer: ARef: What Is Social Stratification?, p. 182
33 Clicker Questions7. Since the early 1970s, inequality in the United States has a. increased. b. decreased. c. remained approximately the same d. become more difficult to measure.Answer: ARef: How Does Social Inequality Affect Your Life?, p. 210
34 Stratification, Class, and Inequality Art Presentation SlidesChapter 7Stratification, Class, and InequalityAnthony GiddensMitchell DuneierRichard P. AppelbaumDeborah Carr
56 Essentials Of Sociology W.W. Norton & Company Independent and Employee-OwnedThis concludes the Art Presentation SlidesSlide Set for Chapter 7Essentials Of SociologyTHIRD EDITIONbyAnthony GiddensMitchell DuneierRichard P. AppelbaumDeborah Carr