Class and Stratification What is Stratification? Stratification in Historical Perspective Stratification in Modern Western Societies Poverty and Inequality.
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Presentation on theme: "Class and Stratification What is Stratification? Stratification in Historical Perspective Stratification in Modern Western Societies Poverty and Inequality."— Presentation transcript:
Class and Stratification What is Stratification? Stratification in Historical Perspective Stratification in Modern Western Societies Poverty and Inequality Social Mobility
What is Stratification? Stratification is the system of structured inequalities among different groups of people Structured => stratification persists across generations Inequality => differential access to scarce resources Wealth Income Power Prestige Different groups => access to scarce resources varies systematically by class, gender, age, race and ethnicity
Stratification by Class, Gender, Age, Race and Ethnicity: Is concerned with the ways in which inequalities are distributed within societies Answers the question Who gets what and why?
Stratification by Class Asks: How equal are modern societies? How much of a chance does someone have of reaching the top of the economic ladder? Why is there persistent poverty in affluent societies?
How Equal are Modern Societies? This research addresses such issues as: Class structure Distribution of wealth Distribution of income Equality of opportunity
Chance of reaching top of economic ladder? This research addresses such issues as: Social mobility Does a society have a closed or open stratification system?
Why is there persistent poverty in affluent societies? This research addresses such issues as: Poverty Homelessness Unemployment
Stratification in Historical Context Stratification is found everywhere Four basic systems of stratification Slavery Caste Estate Class
Compared to other systems, class systems (at least in principle) are: Fluid Based on achievement Economically-based
Stratification in Modern Western Societies Class is basis of stratification Chief bases of class differences are ownership of wealth and occupation
Industrialization and the Labor Force Increase in occupational specialization Changes in proportions of labor force in different sectors of the economy Changes in proportions of labor force in different types of occupations Increased employment of women outside the home
Classifying Occupations by Industry Sector Primary sector Part of the economy that generates raw materials directly from the environment Secondary sector Part of the economy that transforms raw materials into manufactured goods Tertiary sector Part of the economy that generates services rather than goods
Classifying Occupations by Occupational Type Agricultural/farm occupations Blue-collar occupations Prestige? Link with class structure? White-collar occupations Prestige? Link with class structure?
Increased Employment of Women Outside the Home % of women in labor force 1901 1998 % of labor force who are women 1901 1998
Class Structure of Canada Upper class Upper-uppers Lower-uppers Middle class Working class Lower class Poor Working poor
Policy Implications Success of government programs to transfer and redistribute income? Canada United States
Poverty and Inequality Relative poverty What is it? Absolute poverty What is it? How used in policy debates?
Who is at Risk of being Poor in Canada? Children Women Certain visible minorities People living in rural areas
Debate Over Poverty Focus Competing positions Poor are largely responsible for their own poverty Poverty is caused unequal distribution of resources in society Link with debate over causes of homelessness
Social Mobility Movement of individuals and groups between strata in the class hierarchy Vertical mobility = movement up or down the class hierarchy Upward mobility Downward mobility Link with lateral mobility
Sociologists study social mobility by: Looking at individuals' own careers and seeing how far they move up or down the socioeconomic scale in the course of their own working lives Intragenerational mobility Exploring where children are on the socioeconomic scale compared to their parents or grandparents Intergenerational mobility
Most general concern: Do individuals born into the lower strata of society have opportunities to move up? Why?
Sociologists explore social mobility by studying occupational shifts Within an individual's career or between generations Occupational composition of the labor force affects intragenerational mobility and intergenerational mobility Why?
Changes in the proportions of white- collar and blue-collar occupations Suggest that over time Canada has become less unequal Suggest that opportunities for social mobility are increasing Why? But aggregate patterns may be misleading
Research outside Canada Shows that much of white-collar growth has occurred in lower positions Sales clerks, typists, file clerks Similar to working class occupations in terms of income, work activities and power Sociologists talk about a "new working class" Low-paid, semi-skilled, white-collar workers Did this happen in Canada?
Comparative research on Western societies has found: Children gain or lose chances of success because of family background Most vertical mobility is between occupations that are quite close to one another Downward mobility is less common than upward mobility but is still widespread Levels of social mobility are low compared to ideals of equality of opportunity
Education is key to upward mobility Many jobs require high school completion as a minimum condition Since 1990 number of jobs requiring a university degree or post-secondary diploma increased by 1.3 million
Compared to Canadians with less education, university graduates: Hold a higher proportion of upper white- collar jobs Are less likely to be unemployed Are less likely to remain unemployed if lose job Are more likely to earn higher salaries
In Canada: Is there equal opportunity for all Canadians to acquire education (assuming they have the ability and motivation to do so)? Do decisions about funding higher education affect equality of access?
Theorizing Stratification by Class Structural-functional paradigm Social inequality plays an important role in the operation of society Davis-Moore hypothesis Social conflict paradigm Stratification benefits some people at the expense of others Marx's critique of capitalism