Chapter 10: Social Stratification, Inequality, and Poverty

Chapter 10: Social Stratification, Inequality, and Poverty

One of the subtle ways poverty affects children
The stress of a mother’s poverty may be toxic to her child even before birth
A central value in all modern democratic societies
The idea of “equality of opportunity,” (everyone, regardless of the resources of the families they are born into, has an equal chance at succeeding in life)
Social stratification
A subfield of sociology that examines inequalities among individuals and groups.
Inequality
The unequal distribution of valued goods and opportunities in society.
Big Man
Someone who, whether because of physical strength or cunning, is able to hoard desirable goods and accumulate more status and power within the tribe or community than others
Slavery
A social system that denies some individuals all basic rights, allowing these individuals to be owned, controlled, and compelled to work for others.
Feudalism
A social order in which those who own land (landlords) are entitled to receive the products of the laborers (serfs) who are legally obligated to work for the landowner.
Serf
Under feudalism, a person who is legally obligated to work for the landowner.
Mean
The average value of a set of data. Add all values and then divide the total by the number of values used.
Median
The value that lies at the middle (or midpoint) of all the data (equal number of cases with either higher or lower values).
Almost half of all the wealth in the world is controlled by
The top 1% of the world’s population
Out of the billionaires in the world, how many live in North America?
Half
The bottom 50% of the world’s population has the same total wealth as how many of the richest people in the world?
Approximately the 80 richest people
Two critical measures of inequality
Income and wealth
Income
The receipt of money or goods over a particular accounting period (includes wages from a job, benefits from a pension or government program, or income from investments.)
Wealth
The net value of all assets owned by an individual or family, including the value of their home.
The most commonly owned wealth asset
Real estate
Consumption
The act of purchasing and using goods and services.
Alternative measures of well-being
• Consumption (most important)
• Health and well-being
• Opportunity
Middle class
A group of people who occupy the middle positions in terms of income and status in an economic system.
Class
The sociological concept that refers to a group of people who share a similar social and economic position in society.
Life chances
An individual’s long-term possibilities and potential, including future income and opportunities; members in same class have same chances
Class analysis
The study of society focused on class or changes in the system of class inequality. Emphasis is placed on examining how, when, and where people’s actions and beliefs are influenced by their economic position.
The problem with using income to define class
There are no clear-cut boundaries between classes
Broader definition of class
Based on components such as education, income, and current occupation.
Socioeconomic status (SES)
A broad definition of a person’s social class based on components such as education, income, assets, and occupation.
Egalitarian
A society, organization, or group characterized by having little or very low levels of inequality.
Relationship between income share of the wealthiest group and inequality in a society
The higher the income share of the wealthiest group, the more inequality there is.
The most commonly used measure of overall income inequality.
Gini Index (ranges from 0 to 1, 0 being complete inequality between 1 family and other families)
The most unequal country of the developed world
The United States
The most inegalitarian countries in the world
South Africa and Namibia
Factors that explain the increase of in economic inequality over the last decades?
1. Technology
2. Decline of manufacturing
3. Globalization
4. Government Policies
Pro and con of technology
• Pro-complements jobs that require higher levels of education (especially a college degree or more)
• Con-tends to replace jobs with middle and lower levels of education
College wage premium
Related to when people with less than a college degree have seen their earnings decline or have increasing trouble finding good jobs.
Deindustrialization
A steady decline in industrial or manufacturing jobs.
Globalization
The growing permeability of national borders and the increase in flows of goods, services, and people across them
Sweatshop
A workplace that may be characterized by unsafe conditions, very low wages, and harsh working conditions.
Outsourcing
Common in globalization, the contracting of parts of the production process to another party, possibly located abroad.
Economic restructuring
Changes in the way the economy, firms, and employment relations are organized.
Progressive tax system
A tax system in which tax rates are higher on richer people than poorer people, with the idea being that it is fair to ask those who can afford to pay more to do so.
Minimum wage
Lowest hourly wage a worker can be paid (by law)
Top 2 professions of top 1%
Executives and high-level managers
Inequality of opportunity
The ways in which inequality shapes the opportunities for children and young adults to maximize their potential.
Social mobility
The movement of individuals from one social position into another.
Intergenerational social mobility
Measure of the extent to which parents and their children have similar or different social and economic positions in adulthood.
Upward mobility
Occurs when an individual’s class is higher than that of his or her parents; downward mobility is the opposite.
Caste society
A society in which a person’s social position is determined by the family he or she is born into.
Association
The existence of a relationship between two variables, where a change in one variable is related to a change in another variable.
Immobility
A situation in which individuals are unable to move from one economic or social class into another.
Labor market
The process through which employers identify and hire individuals to work under specified terms of employment.
Overlapping Factors Affecting Social Mobility
• Family
• Education
• Labor Market
• Government Policies
Poverty line
Established by the government, it is the minimum income necessary to afford basic necessities. Anyone below this threshold is considered to be in poverty.
Absolute poverty
A measure of the minimum requirements needed for people to have basic standards of food, clothing, health, and shelter. Any individual or family falling below this fixed amount is defined as living in poverty; used by American government
Most important shortcoming of absolute poverty
Doesn’t take changing standards of living into account
Relative poverty
A term used to define people as poor by comparing their incomes relative to other people in society; adopted by many European governments
Feminization of poverty
Families in which there is a single parent-usually a female-are much more likely to be poor.
Working poor
People who do not make enough income to be free from poverty, even if they work full time.
Why is childhood poverty a powerful predictor of poverty in adulthood?
It creates a vicious cycle that reproduces disadvantage across generations.
Homelessness
An extreme form of poverty defined by lack of permanent shelter to live in.
What lead to the increase of homelessness in the 1980s?
1. Closing down of mental hospitals
2. Decline of social programs for the poor
3. Destruction of low-cost housing in urban-area
4. Rise in unemployment among high-risk groups
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