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Chapter 7 Social Class: The Structure of Inequality

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Aisha Pittman

on 22 September 2014

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Transcript of Chapter 7 Social Class: The Structure of Inequality

Social Class &
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 on different criteria (like race, class, and gender).

How does the U.S. stratify people?
Social Stratification
Social Classes in the United States
Theories of Social Class
Social mobility
is the movement of individuals or groups within the hierarchal system of social classes.
closed system
is one with very little opportunity to move from one class to another.
Ex. India
open system
is one with ample opportunities to move from one class to another.
Ex. United States
Social Mobility
Systems of Stratification
caste system
is a form of social stratification in which status is determined by one’s family history and background and cannot be changed.

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).
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
Earn $250,000/year and up*
The Upper Middle Class
Professionals and managers
Make up about 14% of the U.S. population
Earn $89,000 - $150,000/year*
The Middle Class
The middle class consists primarily of:
“White collar” workers
Have a broad range of incomes
Make up about 30% of the U.S. population
Is believed to be “shrinking”
Earn $55,000 to $88,000/year*
The Working (Lower-Middle) Class
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
Earn $23,000 - $54,000/year*
The Lower Class/Working Poor
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
Earn less than $10,500 - $22,000*
Karl Marx- macrosociologist
Max Weber- macrosociologist
Pierre Bourdieu- postmodern sociologist
Erving Goffman- symbolic interactionist
Karl Marx
Max Weber
Pierre Bourdieu
Conflict Theorist!
He believed that there were two main social classes in capitalist societies:
), who owned the means of production
), who sold their labor for wages
He believed that the classes would remain divided and social inequality would grow.
Marx believed a small group of rich, privileged people would control the wealth.
Max Weber offered a similar model that also included cultural factors.
He argued that class status was made of three components, or the “Three P’s”:
Money, investments
Political power; ability to make changes in system
Social honor people are given when they are a part of a well-regarded social group
Pierre Bourdieu has attempted to explain
social reproduction
, the tendency for social class status to be passed down from one generation to the next.

According to Bourdieu, this happens because each generation acquires cultural capital (tastes, habits, expectations, skills, knowledge, etc.) that help us to gain advantages in society.
May try to acquire cultural capital to “better themselves.”

This cultural capital either helps or hinders us as we become adults.
Children are socialized into a particular “culture” of their class.
It is the knowledge, skills, education, and advantages that a person has, which give them a higher status in society. (Forms of knowledge, skills, education, and advantages that a person has, which give them a higher status in society. Non-financial social assets that promote social mobility; move up in social class.)
Travel experience, amount of stamps on your passport
Knowledge of art
Knowledge of foreign languages
Your “ability” to speak, or the way you speak
The school a person attends
Certain types of food, do you have a “sophisticated” palette?
Economic capital
Command over economic resources (cash, assets)
Social capital
“It’s WHO you know!”
Your group memberships, relationships, and networks of influence and support
Social Mobility
Horizontal social mobility
is the occupational movement of individuals or groups within a social class.
Cashier at Safeway --> Sales Associate at Macy's

Vertical social mobility
is the movement between social classes and is often called either upward mobility or downward mobility.
Student --> Registered Nurse
Social Mobility
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’s lifetime.
Defining Poverty
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.

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.

What criticisms do you think people have of this theory?

Chapter 6 Recap
The case of a student who was continually told that he was not smart and would never amount to anything and who eventually drops out of school is an example of?
According to Merton’s structural strain theory, an individual who deals drugs in order to get rich would be called a(n):
_______ is when someone presents themselves as a member of a different group than the stigmatized group in which the person belongs.
Full transcript