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Chapter 7. Class and Stratification in the United States. Questions for you…. How much is “social class” a factor in people’s lives? How many social classes are there in the United States? Is there still a “middle class,” given the economic challenges of today?

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chapter 7

Chapter 7

Class and Stratification in the United States

questions for you
Questions for you…

How much is “social class” a factor in people’s lives?

How many social classes are there in the United States?

Is there still a “middle class,” given the economic challenges of today?

Can individuals change their social class location?

chapter outline
Chapter Outline

What Is Social Stratification?

Systems of Stratification

Classical Perspectives on Social Class

Contemporary Sociological Models of the U.S. Class Structure

Inequality in the United States

chapter outline1
Chapter Outline

Poverty in the United States

Sociological Explanations of Social Inequality in the United States

U.S. Stratification in the Future

how much do you know about wealth poverty and the american dream
How Much Do You Know About Wealth, Poverty, and the American Dream?
  • True or False?
    • A number of people living below the official poverty line have fulltime jobs.
how much do you know about wealth poverty and the american dream1
How Much Do You Know About Wealth, Poverty, and the American Dream?
  • True.
    • Many of those who fall below the official poverty line are referred to as the “working poor” because they work full time but earn such low wages that they are still considered to be impoverished.
how much do you know about wealth poverty and the american dream2
How Much Do You Know About Wealth, Poverty, and the American Dream?
  • True or False?
    • About 5 percent of U.S. residents live in households whose members sometimes do not get enough to eat.
how much do you know about wealth poverty and the american dream3
How Much Do You Know About Wealth, Poverty, and the American Dream?
  • True.
    • It is estimated that about 5 percent of the U.S. population (1 in 20 people) resides in household units where members do not get enough to eat.
poverty in america
Poverty in America

Poverty is a standard of living below the minimum needed to for the maintenance of an adequate diet, health care and shelter.

Poverty affects approximately 12% of the total American population and millions more worldwide.

social stratification
Social Stratification

Hierarchy of social groups based on differential control over resources.

Sociologists examine social groups that make up the hierarchy in a society, to determine how inequalities persist over time.

life chances
Life Chances
  • Access to resources such as food, clothing, shelter, education, and health care.
  • Affluent people have better life chances because they have greater access to:
    • quality education
    • safe neighborhood
    • nutrition and health care
    • police protection
polling question
Polling Question
  • The poor are poor because the American way of life doesn't give all people an equal chance.
      • Strongly agree
      • Agree somewhat
      • Unsure
      • Disagree somewhat
      • Strongly disagree
systems of stratification
Systems of Stratification

Open system - boundaries between hierarchies may be influenced by people’s achieved statuses.

Closed system - boundaries between hierarchies are rigid, people’s positions are set by ascribed status.

No stratification system is completely open or closed.

slavery
Slavery
  • Five major examples of slave societies from history:
    • ancient Greece
    • Roman Empire
    • United States
    • Caribbean and Brazil.
  • There are an estimated 27 million people held as slaves worldwide.
characteristics of slavery in the u s
Characteristics of Slavery in the U.S.

It was for life and was inherited.

Slaves were considered property, not human beings.

Slaves were denied rights.

Coercion was used to keep slaves “in their place”.

caste system
Caste System

Status is determined at birth based on parents’ ascribed characteristics.

Cultural values sustain caste systems and caste systems grow weaker as societies industrialize.

Vestiges of caste systems can remain for hundreds of years after they are officially abolished.

the class system
The Class System

A type of stratification based on the ownership and control of resources and on the type of work people do.

Horizontal mobility occurs when people experience a gain or loss in position and/or income that does not produce a change in their place in the class structure.

Vertical mobility is movement up or down the class structure is.

polling question1
Polling Question
  • If you were asked to use one of the following four names for your parents' social class, which would you say they belong in?
      • Upper class
      • Middle class
      • Working class
      • Lower class
marxian criteria for class structure
Marxian Criteria for Class Structure

Ownership of the means of production.

Employing others.

Supervising others on the job.

Being employed by someone else.

max weber wealth prestige and power
Max Weber: Wealth,Prestige, and Power

Wealth is the value of a person’s or family’s economic assets, including income, personal property, and income-producing property.

Prestige is the regard with which a person or status position is regarded by others.

Power is the ability of people or groups to achieve their goals despite opposition from others.

socioeconomic status ses
Socioeconomic Status (SES)

A combined measure that, in order to determine class location, attempts to classify individuals, families, or households in terms of factors such as income, occupation, and education.

weberian model of the class structure
Weberian Model of the Class Structure

Upper Class - comprised of people who own substantial income-producing assets.

Upper-Middle Class - based on university degrees, authority on the job, and high income.

Middle Class - a minimum of a high school diploma or a community college degree.

weberian model of the class structure1
Weberian Model of the Class Structure

Working Class - semiskilled workers, in routine, mechanized jobs, and workers in pink collar occupations.

Working Poor - live just above to just below the poverty line.

Underclass - people who are poor, seldom employed, and caught in long-term deprivation.

middle class and the american dream
Middle Class and the American Dream
  • Four factors have eroded the American Dream for this class:
    • Escalating housing prices
    • Occupational insecurity
    • Blocked mobility on the job
    • Cost of living squeeze that has penalized younger workers, even when they have more education and better jobs than their parents.
pink collar occupations
Pink-Collar Occupations

Relatively low-paying, nonmanual, semiskilled positions primarily held by women, such as day-care workers, checkout clerks, cashiers, and waitpersons.

underclass
Underclass

Those who are poor, seldom employed, and caught in long-term deprivation that results from low levels of education and income and high rates of unemployment.

wright s criteria for placement in the class structure
Wright’s Criteria for Placement in the Class Structure
  • Wright assumes that these criteria can be used to determine the class placement of all workers, regardless of race/ethnicity, in a capitalist society:
    • Ownership of the means of production
    • Purchase of the labor of others (employing others).
    • Control of the labor of others (supervising others on the job).
    • Sale of one’s own labor (being employed by someone else).
wright s four classes
Wright’s Four Classes

The capitalist class

The managerial class

The small-business class

The working class

income and wealth
Income and Wealth

Income - wages, salaries, government aid, and property

Wealth - value of economic assets, including income and property.

Wealth can generate income.

defining poverty
Defining Poverty
  • Sociologists distinguish between absolute and relative poverty.
    • Absolute poverty exists when people do not have the means to secure the most basic necessities of life.
    • Relative poverty exists when people may be able to afford basic necessities but are still unable to maintain an average standard of living.
official poverty line
Official Poverty Line

The federal income standard that is based on what is considered to be the minimum amount of money required for living at a subsistence level.

feminization of poverty
Feminization of Poverty
  • The trend in which women are disproportionately represented among individuals living in poverty.
    • Women bear the major economic and emotional burdens of raising children when they are single heads of households but earn 70 and 80 cents for every dollar a male worker earns.
    • More women than men are unable to obtain regular, full-time, employment.
job deskilling
Job Deskilling

A reduction in the proficiency needed to perform a specific job that leads to a corresponding reduction in the wages for that job.

functionalist perspective davis moore thesis
Functionalist Perspective: Davis-Moore Thesis

Societies have tasks that must be accomplished and positions that must be filled.

Some positions are more important for the survival of society than others.

The most important positions must be filled by the most qualified people.

functionalist perspective davis moore thesis1
Functionalist Perspective: Davis-Moore Thesis

The positions that are the most important for society and that require scarce talent, extensive training, or both must be the most highly rewarded.

The most highly rewarded positions should be those that are functionally unique (no other position can perform the same function) and on which other positions rely for expertise, direction, or financing.

meritocracy
Meritocracy

A hierarchy in which all positions are rewarded based on people’s ability and credentials.

u s stratification in the future
U.S. Stratification in the Future
  • Many social scientists believe that trends point to an increase in social inequality in the U.S.:
    • The purchasing power of the dollar has stagnated or declined since the early 1970s.
    • Wealth continues to become more concentrated at the top of the U.S. class structure.
    • Federal tax laws in recent years have benefited corporations and wealthy families at the expense of middle and lower-income families.
slide51
1. Those that are poor typically have fewer life chances, which means they also have fewer opportunities to obtain:
  • all of the choices
  • money
  • medical care
  • property
answer a
Answer: A
  • Those that are poor typically have fewer life chances, which means they also have fewer opportunities to obtain money, medical care and property.
slide53
2. ________ is a system of social inequality in which people's status is permanently determined at birth based on their parents' ascribed characteristics.
  • Class
  • Slavery
  • Caste
  • Socialist system
answer c
Answer: C
  • Caste is a system of social stratification people’s status is permanently assigned at birth based on their parents’ ascribed characteristics.
slide55

3. According to Karl Marx, social classes are defined by

    • A. relationship to the economic means of production.
    • B. relative control over power, wealth, and prestige.
    • C. gender
    • D. income
answer a1
Answer: A
  • For Marx, people’s relationship to the means of production determines their class position. Weber developed a multidimensional concept of stratification that focuses on the interplay of wealth, prestige, and power.
slide57

4. About two-thirds of all adults living in poverty are

    • A. Elderly
    • B. Black
    • C. Women
    • D. Unemployed
answer c1
Answer: C
  • About two-thirds of all adults living in poverty are women. In 2008, single-parent families headed by women had a 28.7-percent poverty rate as compared with a 13.8-percent rate for male-householder-with-no-wife-present families and a 5.5-percent rate for two-parent families.
slide59

5. People who are wealthy and well educated and who have high-paying jobs are much more likely to be healthy than are poor people.

    • A. True
    • B. False
answer a2
Answer: A
  • True, people who are wealthy and well educated and who have high-paying jobs are much more likely to be healthy than are poor people. As people’s economic status increases, so does their health status. The poor have shorter life expectancies and are at greater risk for chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, as well as infectious diseases such as tuberculosis.