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midterm so far - Angela Shamay Urban Studies Midter m 1 Is...

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Angela Shamay Urban Studies Midterm 1. Is the United States a meritocracy? Cite specific evidence about social mobility in the last thirty years (10 pts). In order for a system to be meritocratic, a person must be judged by ability and not by social status/culture. I don’t believe the U.S. is a meritocracy because income inequality is growing. The incomes of the richest fifth increased by 70%, while the incomes of the poorest fifth increased by 6.4%, according to The Economist . People who are rich tend to stay rich and get richer, while people who are poor tend to have problems climbing the social class ladder. There is also discrimination among occupations. Social mobility has declined since the 1970s because the statistical figures are shrinking and more people in the lower ranks have trouble climbing the class ladder as time goes on. Social mobility appears to have declined since the 1970s. A 1978 study found that 23% of adult men who had been born in the bottom fifth of the population (of the social class ladder) had made it into the top fifth; only 10% of the adult men born in the bottom quarter had made it to the top quarter; and nearly 70% of the sons in 1998 had remained either at the same level or were doing worse than their fathers in 1979. The only group that showed significant upward mobility was the rich. Another study (according to The Economist ) proving declining mobility showed that 42% of those born into the poorest fifth ended up where they started—at the bottom; 24% moved up slightly to the next-to-bottom group; and only 6% made it to the top fifth. However, upward mobility was particularly low for black families. A person born into the top fifth is over five times as likely to end up at the top as a person born into the bottom fifth; 37% of those born into the top fifth remained there; however, barely 7% of those born into the top 20% ended up in the bottom fifth. According to The Economist , elite colleges are admitting less poor and working students and it’s harder for people to work their way to the top of large corporation than in years ago. This
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proves there is far less mobility in the United States than is frequently thought. 2. Contrast the Marxist concept of class with the Weberian concept of status. (10 pts) The conceptions of class and status are used to explain economic hierarchies and inequalities. Marxist’s concept of class explains that the capitalist class owns the means of production. Workers sell their labor power, as a means of production. The relationship between workers and employers is a relationship of exploitation. There is class antagonism in the capitalist system, and it often leads to class conflict. Weber agreed with Marx’s concept of class, but he was interested in understanding how elites gain authority over others. For Marx, class groups are divided according to their relationship to production. However for Weber, status groups are divided according to their relationships to consumption. Weber defined privileged consumption as the ability to access and take advantage of exclusive social institutions through honor, authority, and lifestyle.
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