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Performing Inequality, Protesting Inequality 111 SPR14

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Julie Jenkins

on 21 April 2016

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Transcript of Performing Inequality, Protesting Inequality 111 SPR14

Performing Inequality, Protesting Inequality
Inequality- degree to which culturally valued material and social rewards are given disproportionately to groups, individuals, & families
----Access to wealth, prestige, & power
Who are the Billionaires?
-use of class-based symbols
--voice quality
class- group defined in terms of wealth, occupation, & other economic criteria
--but also a social group, with specific values, norms, ideas, language
“one of the mainsprings of humor is the discrepancy between reality and what we desire and expect” (Yarwood 2004)
Why does inequality exist? What is its function?
Functionalists argue:
--we need inequality to motivate people to work hard and take on challenging roles
-- it makes sure the most able individuals are recruited into the most socially valuable roles
Are the most socially valuable roles adequately compensated in terms of wealth & prestige? Does prestige correspond to wage level?
wages aren't really set based upon whether they are socially valuable.
Does this theory explain race, ethnicity, and gender based inequality?
Conflict Theorists argue:

inequality serves those who own the "means of production", technology, land, corporations, capital
and it enables them (the 'bourgeoisie') to exploit workers (the 'proletariate')
--exploitation manifested in terms of profit
Are the 'elite' only exploiting others? Do they not have socially valuable occupations?
--ideologies (ideas that maintain the status quo)
In the US- don't realize how wealthy the wealthy actually are....
--richest 20% controls 80% of wealth in the US (Norton 2011)
--wealth vs income

Both of theories are mobilized in our political, economic, and social debates about inequality
How is inequality maintained? How is it reproduced?
53% of Americans consider themselves to be middle-class
-including 40% of those who make less than $20,000/year
--46.5 Million under poverty line (2013 Census Bureau)
Income distribution 2012
--richest 1% - 22.5% of national income
--bottom 90%- 49.6%
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