Presentation on theme: "Chapter 7: Social Class: The Structure of Inequality"— Presentation transcript:
1 Chapter 7: Social Class: The Structure of Inequality
2 Social Stratification and Social Inequality Social stratification is the division of society into groups arranged in a social hierarchy.Every society has some form of stratification, but societies stratify people according to a variety of criteria (such as race, class, and gender).Social stratification is a characteristic of society; it persists over generations and is maintained through beliefs that are widely shared by members of society. In a stratified society, groups at the top of the hierarchy have greater access to goods and services than members of groups at the bottom.
3 Social InequalitySocial inequality is the unequal distribution of wealth, power, or prestige among members of a society.We find several different systems of stratification operating in the United States, where it is not hard to demonstrate that being wealthy, white, or male typically confers a higher status (and all that goes along with it) on a person than does being poor, nonwhite, or female. Because social inequality affects a person’s life experience so profoundly, it is worthwhile to examine how stratification works.[Credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Frachet
4 Systems of Stratification Slavery is the most extreme form of social stratification and is based on the legal ownership of people.Slaves aren’t even considered to be people—they are considered the property of the slave owner. This is an extreme form of stratification because the individuals who are slaves have no access to pursuing the resources available in society and no opportunity for social mobility (which we will discuss in a few moments).[
5 Systems of Stratification (cont’d.) A caste system is a form of social stratification in which status is determined by one’s family history and background and cannot be changed.Example) In olden times when societies were ruled by Kings and royalty, people were born into a specific caste. If you from royal blood, you were royal, if your parents were commoners, you were common.India is the country most closely associated with the caste system. Another example of a caste system was apartheid, the segregation of racial and ethnic groups that was legal in South Africa between 1948 and 1991.
6 Systems of Stratification (cont’d.) Apartheid is the term for the system of segregation of racial and ethnic groups that was legal in South Africa between 1948 and (Caste System)South Africans were legally classified into four main racial groups: white (English and Dutch heritage), Indian (from India), “colored” (mixed race), and black. Blacks formed a large majority, at 60 percent of the population. These groups were geographically and socially separated from one another. Blacks were forcibly removed from almost 80 percent of the country, which was reserved for the three minority groups, and relocated to independent “homelands” similar to the Indian reservations in the United States. They could not enter other parts of the country without a pass—and if they did get a pass it was usually in order to work as “guest laborers” in white areas. Ironically, African Americans visiting South Africa were given “honorary white” status and could move freely within white and nonwhite areas.
7 Images of Segregation in the United States and Apartheid in South Africa [[ Credit: Wikimedia Commons/ K.Newman]
8 Systems of Stratification (cont’d.) Social class refers to a system of stratification based on access to resources such as wealth, property, power, and prestige. Sociologists often refer to it as socioeconomic status (or SES).
9 Social Classes in the United States The upper class:Wealthiest people in a class systemMake up about 1% of the U.S. populationPossess most of the wealth of the country
10 Social Classes in the United States (cont’d.) The upper-middle class:Professionals and managersMake up about 14% of the U.S. populationThe middle class consists primarily of“White-collar” workersHave a broad range of incomesMake up about 30% of the U.S. populationInterestingly, most Americans would call themselves middle class, whether they make $25,000 per year or $250,000. Middle class seems to be a social norm that people want to identify with even when they really are not part of that class.
11 Social Classes in the United States (cont’d.) The working (lower-middle) class:“Blue-collar” or service industry workersLess likely to have college degreesMake up about 30% of the U.S. population
12 Social Classes in the United States (cont’d.) The lower class:Many poor people, who typically have lower levels of literacy than other classesMake up about 20% of the U.S. population
13 Social Class: Conflict Theory Karl Marx believed that there were two main social classes in capitalist societies:Capitalists (or bourgeoisie), who owned the means of productionWorkers (or proletariat), who sold their labor for wagesHe believed that the classes would remain divided and social inequality would grow.Economic Relations mattered the mostRemember, Marx was a conflict theorist, meaning that he was interested in the conflict between these two classes. He believed that eventually the workers would revolt against the capitalists because of the oppression they felt.
14 Social Class: Weberian Theory Max Weber offered a similar model that also included cultural factors.He argued that class status was made of three components:Wealth (or privilege)PowerPrestigeSometimes this is referred to as “The 3 Ps” or the “Three-Pronged Image of Power.” Wealth might be considered money and investments (earned or inherited); power is political power or ability to make changes in the system; and prestige is the social honor people are given because of their membership in well-regarded social groups. Sometimes a person may have one of these but not the others, but often the most powerful or successful people have all three.
15 Social Class: Structural- Functional Theory Suggests that the system of stratification that has emerged is functional to society in many ways:Certain roles are more important for the functioning of society, and these roles may be more difficult to fill, so more incentive is needed.Greater rewards are necessary for work that requires more training or skill.The functionalist perspective helps to explain the existing system of social stratification and its persistence, but it still leaves us with questions about the structured inequalities that the system continues to reproduce. Is it really functional for social rewards (such as wealth, power, and prestige) to be so unequally divided among members of society?15
16 Social Class: Postmodern Theory More recently, Pierre Bourdieu attempted to explain social reproduction, the tendency for social-class status to be passed down from one generation to the next.While we like to believe that our society has an “open system” in which people have social mobility, we can notice patterns that lack inter- and intragenerational mobility. We’ll talk about all of these terms in upcoming slides, but the point is that we tend to notice trends where children reproduce their family’s social class.
17 Social Class: Postmodern Theory According to Bourdieu, this happens because each generation acquires cultural capital (tastes, habits, expectations, skills, knowledge, etc.), which helps us to gain advantages in society.This cultural capital either helps or hinders us as we become adults.For instance, it is very helpful for business people to know how to play golf, as many important business deals are struck on a golf course. Growing up in a family that can teach you that how to play golf can give you some cultural capital that will be very advantageous.
18 Social Class: Symbolic Interaction Theory Symbolic interactionists examine the way we use status differences to categorize ourselves and others.As Erving Goffman pointed out, our clothing, speech, gestures, possessions, friends, and activities provide information about our socioeconomic status.You might notice that you wear similar brands of clothing or eat at similar restaurants as your friends. You’ll also notice that there are other people who wear or eat things that are very different from what you wear or eat. These preferences might say something about the class that you belong to or associate with.
19 Social MobilitySocial mobility is the movement of individuals or groups within the hierarchical system of social classes.America technically has an open system (it is legal and permissible for people to move between classes), but we can notice structural patterns where people tend to stay very close to the class they were raised in. If we have an open system, why do we see a lack of opportunities to move between classes?
20 Social Mobility (cont’d.) Intergenerational mobility is the movement between social classes that occurs from one generation to the next.Intragenerational mobility is the movement between social classes that occurs over the course of an individual’s lifetime.An example of intergenerational mobility would be a plumber who has a daughter who becomes a doctor. There was class movement between generations. An example of intragenerational mobility would be a man who is a secretary but then goes back to school to become a lawyer. The mobility in that situation would be within his own lifetime and would likely change his social class.
21 Social Mobility (cont’d.) Structural mobility refers to changes in the social status of large numbers of people due to structural changes in society.Women entering the workplace during World War II is an example of a structural change that affected large numbers of people and families.During periods of economic recession, we may see downward social mobility for many people at once due to layoffs and company closures.[
22 Defining PovertyIn the United States, the federal poverty line (an absolute measure of annual income) is frequently used to determine who should be categorized as poor.Residential segregation, political disenfranchisement, and the use of law enforcement to control the homeless can make poverty invisible to many Americans.The number of people in poverty increased from 37 million (12.6% of the population) in 2005 to 46.2 million (15.1% of the population) in 2010 (source: U.S. Census Bureau 2011d).
23 Defining Poverty (cont’d.) Relative deprivation is a relative measure of poverty based on the standards of living.People are considered poor if their standard of living is less than that of other members of society.You might feel poor compared to others because they have more material possessions or spending power than you have. You are comparing your salary to the salary of others.
24 Defining Poverty (cont’d.) Absolute deprivation is an objective measure of poverty that is defined by the inability to meet minimal standards for food, shelter, clothing, or health care.In this case, you feel poor because you can’t meet minimal, basic needs. You are comparing your salary to the cost of living.[
25 Defining Poverty (cont’d.) The culture of poverty refers to learned attitudes that can develop among poor communities and lead the poor to accept their fate rather than attempt to improve their situation.One of the key criticisms of this theory is that it tends to blame the victims of poverty for their own misfortune while failing to take into account the structural factors that shape culture. However, it is worthwhile to discuss ways that society might help stop this cycle. For instance, if children aren’t getting skills about financial management at home, could the schools intervene and give these children the skills they’ll need to move into a higher social class?
26 Inequality & Ideology of the American Dream The ideology of the American Dream (that anyone can achieve material success if he or she works hard enough) explains and justifies our social system, but it has been criticized for legitimizing stratification by implying that everyone has the same opportunity to get ahead.This is the idea of meritocracy (that hard work is justly rewarded). This notion tells us that success or failure depends on the person, when in reality we know that there are structural advantages and disadvantages that also contribute to an individual’s success or failure. In upcoming chapters we will discuss some of these structural issues.
27 Chapter 7: Participation Questions Which of the following do you feel best describes your family?upper classmiddle classworking classThese questions can be used with “clickers,” cell phones, or other audience response systems to increase participation in your classes. They can also be used to encourage discussion without technological input.
28 Chapter 7: Participation Questions What percentage of the population do you think makes over $250,000 per year?1%10%25%ANS: a.These questions can be used with “clickers,” cell phones, or other audience response systems to increase participation in your classes. They can also be used to encourage discussion without technological input.
29 Chapter 7: Participation Questions What percentage of the population do you think makes under $22,000 per year?1%10%25%ANS: c.These questions can be used with “clickers,” cell phones, or other audience response systems to increase participation in your classes. They can also be used to encourage discussion without technological input.
30 Chapter 7: Participation Questions Have you ever made the decision NOT to go to the doctor or hospital because you couldn’t afford it?YesNoThese questions can be used with “clickers,” cell phones, or other audience response systems to increase participation in your classes. They can also be used to encourage discussion without technological input.
31 Chapter 7: Participation Questions What is more important to you in your future career, prestige or money?PrestigeMoneyThese questions can be used with “clickers,” cell phones, or other audience response systems to increase participation in your classes. They can also be used to encourage discussion without technological input.
32 Chapter 7: Participation Questions Are you a first-generation college student?Yes (first in my family to go to college)No (one or both parents went to college)These questions can be used with “clickers,” cell phones, or other audience response systems to increase participation in your classes. They can also be used to encourage discussion without technological input.
33 Chapter 7: Participation Questions In your opinion, which of the following images best represents the “American Dream”?a b c.These questions can be used with “clickers,” cell phones, or other audience response systems to increase participation in your classes. They can also be used to encourage discussion without technological input.Images:Credit: Wikimedia Commons/ TikboodleCredit: Wikimedia Commons/ Deniseesser
34 This concludes the Lecture PowerPoint presentation for Chapter 7