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  3. Social Class and Changing Families in an Unequal America
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The thesis also does not explain inequalities in the education system, or inequalities due to race or gender. Tumin believed social stratification prevented qualified people from attempting to fill roles For example, an underprivileged youth has less chance of becoming a scientist, no matter how smart he or she is, because of the relative lack of opportunity available. The Davis-Moore thesis, though open for debate, was an early attempt to explain why stratification exists. The thesis states that social stratification is necessary to promote excellence, productivity, and efficiency, thus giving people something to strive for.

Davis and Moore believed that the system serves society as a whole because it allows everyone to benefit to a certain extent. Critical sociologists are deeply critical of social inequality, asserting that it benefits only some people not all of society. For instance, to a critical sociologist it seems problematic that after a long period of increasing equality of incomes from World War II to the s, the wealthiest 1 percent of income earners have been increasing their share of the total income of Canadians from 7.

Rather than creating conditions in which wealth trickles down, tax cuts and neoliberal policies tremendously benefit the rich at the expense of the poor. This is an example of the way that stratification perpetuates inequality. Contrary to the analysis of functionalists, huge corporate bonuses continued to be awarded even when dysfunctional corporate and financial mismanagement of the economy led to the global financial crisis of Nor is it the case that corporate elites work harder to merit more rewards.

Over the period of increasing inequality in income, the only group not working more weeks and hours in the paid workforce is the richest 10 percent of families Yalnizyan, Critical sociologists try to bring awareness to inequalities, such as how a rich society can have so many poor members. Many critical sociologists draw on the work of Karl Marx. During the 19th-century era of industrialization, Marx analyzed the way the owning class or capitalists raked in profits and got rich, while working-class proletarians earned skimpy wages and struggled to survive.

With such opposing interests, the two groups were divided by differences of wealth and power. Marx saw workers experience deep exploitation, alienation, and misery resulting from class power Marx, He also predicted that the growing collective impoverishment of the working class would lead them, through the leadership of unions, to recognize their common class interests. With the abolition of private property i. Marx did not live see the state socialist systems in the Soviet Union and elsewhere that called themselves communist but ended up replacing capitalist-based inequality with bureaucratic-based inequality.

Today, while working conditions have improved, critical sociologists believe that the strained working relationship between employers and employees still exists. Capitalists own the means of production, and a neoliberal political system is in place to make business owners rich and keep workers poor.

Moreover, the privileged position of the middle classes has been steadily eroded by growing inequalities of wealth and income. Nevertheless, according to critical sociologists, increasing social inequality is neither inevitable nor necessary. Within interpretive sociology, symbolic interactionism is a theory that uses everyday interactions of individuals to explain society as a whole.

Symbolic interactionism examines stratification from a micro-level perspective. In most communities, people interact primarily with others who share the same social standing. It is precisely because of social stratification that people tend to live, work, and associate with others like themselves, people who share their same income level, educational background, or racial background, and even tastes in food, music, and clothing. The built-in system of social stratification groups people together. Housing, clothing, and transportation indicate social status, as do hairstyles, taste in accessories, and personal style.

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This marks individuals from an early age by such things as knowing how to wear a suit or having an educated manner of speaking. Cultural capital is capital also in the sense of an investment, as it is expensive and difficult to attain while providing access to better occupations. Bourdieu argued that the privilege accorded to those who hold cultural capital is a means of reproducing the power of the ruling classes. Cultural capital becomes a key measure of distinction between social strata.

In the Theory of the Leisure Class , Thorstein Veblen described the activity of conspicuous consumption as the tendency of people to buy things as a display of status rather than out of need. Conspicuous consumption refers to buying certain products to make a social statement about status. Some people buy expensive trendy sneakers even though they will never wear them to jog or play sports. All of these symbols of stratification are worthy of examination by interpretive sociologists because their social significance is determined by the shared meanings they hold.

What Is Social Inequality? Stratification systems are either closed, meaning they allow little change in social position, or open, meaning they allow movement and interaction between the layers. A caste system is one in which social standing is based on ascribed status or birth. Class systems are open, with achievement playing a role in social position. People fall into classes based on factors like wealth, income, education, and occupation.

Social Inequality and Mobility in Canada There are three main classes in Canada: the owning class, middle class, and traditional working class. Social mobility describes a shift from one social class to another. Class traits, also called class markers, are the typical behaviours, customs, and norms that define each class.

Global Stratification and Inequality Global stratification compares the wealth, economic stability, status, and power of countries as a whole. By comparing income and productivity between nations, researchers can better identify global inequalities.


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Theoretical Perspectives on Social Inequality Social stratification can be examined from different sociological perspectives — functionalism, critical sociology, and symbolic interactionism. The functionalist perspective states that inequality serves an important function in aligning individual merit and motivation with social position. Critical sociologists observe that stratification promotes inequality, such as between rich business owners and exploited workers.

Symbolic interactionists examine stratification from a micro-level perspective. What factor makes caste systems closed?


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Global Stratification and Inequality Theoretical Perspectives on Social Inequality What class describes you? Social Inequality and Mobility in Canada Mark Ackbar made a documentary about social class and the rise of the corporation called The Corporation. The filmmakers interviewed corporate insiders and critics. The accompanying website is full of information, resource guides, and study guides to the film.

CBC Radio. Part 3: Former gang members.

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Rogers, T. Ted Rogers: Relentless. The true story of the man behind Rogers Communications. Toronto, ON: HarperCollins. What Is Social Stratification?

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Boyd, M. A socioeconomic scale for Canada: measuring occupational status from the census. Canadian Review of Sociology, 45 1 , Kashmeri, Z. Segregation deeply embedded in India. Kerbo, H. Social stratification and inequality: Class conflict in historical, comparative, and global perspective. An uncommon princess.

Social Class and Changing Families in an Unequal America

Marquand, R. Christian Science Monitor. Capital, labour and the middle classes. Beeghley, L. The structure of social stratification in the United States. Corak, M. Economic mobility, family background, and the well-being of children in the United States and Canada. Discussion paper no.

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Bonn, Germany. DeVine, C. Class in turn-of-the-century novels of Gissing, James, Hardy and Wells. Gilbert, D. The American class structure in an age of growing inequality.

Hollett, K. BC Supreme Court rules homeless have right to public spaces. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Average annual percentage wage adjustments.

Unequal Childhoods: Annette Lareau

Johnstone, A. It pays to pay a living wage. CCPA Monitor. McArthur, G.

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McDonald, D. McFarland, J. Back in the green: CEO pay jumps 13 per cent.