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Chapter 7: Social Class: The Structure of Inequality. Social Stratification and Social Inequality. Social stratification is the division of society into groups arranged in a social hierarchy.

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Chapter 7: Social Class: The Structure of Inequality


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    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).

    3. Social Inequality • Social inequality is the unequal distribution of wealth, power, or prestige among members of a society.

    4. Systems of Stratification • Slavery is the most extreme form of social stratification and is based on the legal ownership of people.

    5. Systems of Stratification (cont’d.) • A caste system is a form of social stratification in which status is determined by one’sfamily 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.

    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 1991. (Caste System)

    7. Images of Segregation in the United States and Apartheid in South Africa

    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 system • Make up about 1% of the U.S. population • Possess most of the wealth of the country

    10. Social Classes in the United States (cont’d.) • The upper-middle class: • Professionals and managers • Make up about 14% of the U.S. population • The middle class consists primarily of • “White-collar” workers • Have a broad range of incomes • Make up about 30% of the U.S. population

    11. Social Classes in the United States (cont’d.) • The working (lower-middle) class: • “Blue-collar” or service industry workers • Less likely to have college degrees • Make 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 classes • Make 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 production • Workers (or proletariat), who sold their labor for wages • He believed that the classes would remain divided and social inequality would grow.

    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) • Power • Prestige

    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. 23

    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.

    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.

    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.

    19. Socioeconomic Status and Life Chances • Belonging to a certain social class has profound consequences for individuals in all areas of life, including education, employment, and medical care.

    20. Social Mobility • Social mobility is the movement of individuals or groups within the hierarchical system of social classes. • A closed system is one in which there is very little opportunity to move from one class to another. • An open system is one with ample opportunities to move from one class to another.

    21. 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’slifetime.

    22. Social Mobility (cont’d.) • Horizontal social mobility is the occupational movement of individuals or groups within a social class. • Vertical social mobility is the movement between social classes and, depending on the direction, is often called either upward mobility or downward mobility.

    23. Social Mobility (cont’d.) • Structural mobility refers to changes in the social status of large numbers of people due to structural changes in society.

    24. Defining Poverty • In the United States, the federal poverty line (an absolute measure of annual income) is frequently used to determine who should be categorized as poor.

    25. 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.

    26. 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.

    27. 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.

    28. 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.

    29. Chapter 7: Participation Questions • Which of the following do you feel best describes your family? • upper class • middle class • working class

    30. Chapter 7: Participation Questions • What percentage of the population do you think makes over $250,000 per year? • 1% • 10% • 25%

    31. Chapter 7: Participation Questions • What percentage of the population do you think makes under $22,000 per year? • 1% • 10% • 25%

    32. Chapter 7: Participation Questions • Have you ever made the decision NOT to go to the doctor or hospital because you couldn’tafford it? • Yes • No

    33. Chapter 7: Participation Questions • What is more important to you in your future career, prestige or money? • Prestige • Money

    34. 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)

    35. Chapter 7: Participation Questions In your opinion, which of the following images best represents the “American Dream”? a. b. c.

    36. This concludes the Lecture PowerPoint presentation for Chapter 7