Chapter 8


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  • Where - rural areas,
  • Chapter 8

    1. 1. Social Class in the United States Chapter 8
    2. 2. After studying this chapter, you should be able to do the following <ul><li>Describe the distribution of wealth and income in the United States. </li></ul><ul><li>Summarize the functionalist and conflict theory views of social stratification. </li></ul><ul><li>Describe differences in the poverty rate among various groups in American society. </li></ul><ul><li>Describe some of the personal and social consequences of a person’s position in the class structure. </li></ul>
    3. 3. <ul><li>Social class </li></ul><ul><li>DEF: A category of people who share similar opportunities, similar economic and vocational positions, similar lifestyles, and similar attitudes and behaviors. </li></ul><ul><li>Class System of stratification </li></ul><ul><li>A society that has several different social classes and permits social mobility </li></ul>
    4. 4. CLASS STRUCTURE <ul><li>There is little agreement among sociologists about how many classes there are and what their unique characteristics are. </li></ul><ul><li>While the definitions and distinctions between the upper class and lower class are straightforward. The lines between the three categories of middle class are more blurred. </li></ul>
    5. 5. CLASS STRUCTURE <ul><li>Upper Class - Great Wealth which is often handed down over generations </li></ul><ul><li>Often influence society’s basic economic and political structures. </li></ul><ul><li>Usually isolates itself from the rest of society. </li></ul><ul><li>The Lower Class </li></ul><ul><li>Bottom of the economic ladder. </li></ul><ul><li>Low education levels </li></ul><ul><li>Few occupational skills and consequently are unemployed or underemployed. </li></ul>
    6. 6. CLASS STRUCTURE <ul><li>Upper middle class is made up of successful business and professional people and their families. Often have a college education, own property, and have a savings reserve. </li></ul><ul><li>The Middle-Middle Class are usually high school grads with modest incomes which are limited because of economic or educational shortcomings. (clerical, sales, semi-professional) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The Lower Middle Class (working class ) is made up of skilled and semiskilled laborers, factory employees, and other blue collar workers. They live adequately but have little for luxuries. </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Functionalist Theory of Stratification <ul><ul><li>Based on the assumption that the major social structures contribute to the maintenance of the social system. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Those who fill the top careers, do so because they are the best qualified and make the most significant contribution. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This view goes back to Spencer’s “social darwinism” </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Functionalist Theory of Stratification <ul><li>Different positions in society make different levels of contributions to the well-being and preservation of society </li></ul><ul><li>Filling the more complex and important positions in society requires talent that is scarce and has a long period of training </li></ul><ul><li>Providing unequal rewards ensures that the most-talented and best-trained individuals will fill the roles of greatest importance </li></ul>
    9. 9. Functionalist Critique <ul><li>MORAL – On what actual grounds is the differential award based? How large should the differential be? </li></ul><ul><li>SCIENTIFIC - There is limited mobility between the classes due to obstacles to advancement and the class structure actually keeps qualified individuals from filling positions they could perform well in. </li></ul>
    10. 10. Conflict Theory - Marx <ul><li>Karl Marx believed one must look at the economic conditions centering around producing the necessities of life. </li></ul><ul><li>Stratification emerged from the power struggles for scarce resources and the ability of the controllers of production to control other parts of society. </li></ul>
    11. 11. Conflict Theory - Weber <ul><li>Weber and Marx agreed that group conflict is a basic ingredient of society and that economic classes arise out of the unequal distribution of wealth. </li></ul><ul><li>Weber stated that people are motivated by self-interest. </li></ul><ul><li>Those who do not have property can defend their interests less well than those who have property. </li></ul><ul><li>Economic institutions are of fundamental importance in shaping the rest of society. </li></ul>
    12. 12. Conflict Theory - Weber <ul><li>Those in power promote ideas and values that help them maintain their dominance. </li></ul><ul><li>Only when exploitation becomes extremely obvious will the powerless object. </li></ul><ul><li>Weber said that there were three sources of stratification: Social Status </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Economic class Political Power </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. Modern Conflict Theory <ul><li>Social inequality emerges through the domination of one or more groups by other groups, creating classes. </li></ul><ul><li>Because the powerful exploit others, they must find mechanisms of social control to keep everyone in line. </li></ul><ul><li>What are thought to be the common values of society are really the values of the dominant groups. These values often justify their established positions. </li></ul><ul><li>Those who are dominated have the potential to express resistance and hostility, but often do not . </li></ul><ul><li>Those in power are very resistant to sharing their advantages </li></ul>
    14. 14. Conflict Theory Critique <ul><li>Does conflict theory fully explain social classes? </li></ul><ul><li>Is there a synthesis possible between structural/functional and conflict view? </li></ul>
    15. 15. POVERTY <ul><ul><li>DEF: Refers to a condition in which people do not have enough money to maintain a standard of living that includes the basic necessities of life. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Depending on how it is measured, estimates vary from 14-45 million in the U.S. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Poverty in the U.S. varies across a number of attributes, it is more likely if an individual is: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A resident of a rural Area </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A female head of household </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>American Indian, Black or Hispanic </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. POVERTY FACTS <ul><ul><li>30% of single women with children are living in poverty. (12.5% of all people live in poverty) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>For divorced women the rate is not as bad as the never married who are usually much younger. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many rural areas have high poverty: applachia (white), delta (black), rio grande valley (hispanic), and Indian reservations in general </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>While the poverty rate among whites is lower than other groups, due to their larger overall numbers there are more whites living in poverty in the U.S. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A full time worker making minimum wage with a three person household, is below the poverty level </li></ul></ul>
    17. 17. GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS <ul><li>Government programs that provide benefits can be divided into two categories: </li></ul><ul><li>- Social insurance and cash benefits going to people of all income levels. Mostly Social Security and Medicare and benefits the elderly. </li></ul><ul><li>- Makes up 38% of government payments to individuals </li></ul><ul><li>Means-tested programs and cash assistance going only to the poor. </li></ul><ul><li>- For female heads of household makes up 2% of government payments to individuals </li></ul>
    18. 18. GROUP DISCUSSION <ul><li>Is being poor a sociological issue or a personal issue? </li></ul>