1) What do we mean by inequality? Stratification?
Social inequality: unequal access to resources (education, government
services, healthcare, social networking, food, jobs, clean water, etc) in society
There are patterns to unequal distribution of resources, sociologists have
found that these patterns are based on characteristics such as race, gender,
ethnicity, social class
Social class: where you are in the hierarchy. Based on income, education,
occupation. These things determine one’s life chances, which refers to the
probabilities of benefitting or suffering from the opportunities or
disadvantages that society offers. In this way, social inequality is reproduced.
Women and minorities underrepresented in upper middle class
Stratification: system in which differentially rewarded social positions in the
economic structure are passed through generations, passing down of positions
takes two forms: caste and class. Caste system is considered closed system (no
mobility,) class system is considered to be open, social mobility is possible
2) What are some principles of inequality?
How much inequality is there in the US? How much inequality can exist in a so called
middle class society?
To the extent that inequality exists, why does it exist? We will be using three levels of
Individual level of analysis: individual characteristics or attributes (e.g.
education, age, talent, skill, motivation)
Economic shifts (shifts in the economy) :changes in the overall economy that
promotes social mobility, e.g. recession, depressions, economic booms,
deindustrialization. Some people argue that there is a scarcity of resources, but
this argument is wrong.
Class conflict, power: how much power different groups in society have
relative to one another, e.g. workers v employers
Hypothetically, if you where to compare Brighton with “inner city” of Rochester,
demographics would vary based on residence patterns, transportation means, access to
education, etc. There might be great deal of racial homogeneity within each neighborhood.
By the end of the semester we should be able to answer why this inequality exists.