Source: World Bank (2002) from Kaplinsky (2002: 31)
How is ‘happiness’ measured? Life satisfaction is typically measured with the following question:All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?
In the image above, the black vertical lines represent the difference in actual ‘talent’ for each individual. The red lines represent the differences in talent as reflected by the amount of social ‘rewards’ each receives. ‘Talent’ here means any salient characteristics of an individual, i.e. anything that society deems to be important or valuable. The point is that small differences are amplified and made larger so that small differences among individuals become large differences in the social rewards each receives. The ‘rewards’ here could be money, power, prestige, etc.
(Note: this does not mean that all types of inequality are inevitable! We should expect this result in the absence of policies to counteract it.)
Bradford mvsu stratification and inequality 2013
Inequality and Stratification (Ch. 12-13) Dr. John Bradford
OutlineI. Inequality within the USII. Global InequalityIII. The importance of EqualityIV. Theories of Stratification
Global Poverty• World Bank defines two distinct sub-categories: 1. World poverty, in which people live on less than $365 per year 2. Extreme poverty, in which individuals live on less than $275 per year.• 600 million people estimated to live in extreme poverty
Global Poverty: long-term trends People living on less than $1 per day (millions) 1820-2000
Distribution of Global Poverty: 1970http://www.gapminder.org/downloads/human-development-trends-2005/
Distribution of Global Poverty: 1970 http://www.gapminder.org/downloads/human-development-trends-2005/
Distribution of Global Poverty: 2000 http://www.gapminder.org/downloads/human-development-trends-2005/
Social Stratification• Social Stratification = a social hierarchy, or evaluation- ranking-reward system. – In a hierarchy, those at the top are not just different, they are considered better or superior. – The definition of ‘better’ depends on the criterion of evaluation: Braver, Smarter, Stronger, Purer…
Social Stratification• Social Stratification = – In nearly all societies, people are evaluated on the basis of some characteristic and placed into higher or lower-ranking groups. – Actors are sorted into social positions that carry unequal rewards, obligations, and expectations
How does inequality arise in class- based societies?Three possible explanations:1. Individualist, or Market framework – Hierarchies are emergent ( = unintended). – Inequality of individuals’ effort or talent lead to inequality of status positions (income, power, prestige, etc.) – Higher ‘rewards’ for some individuals are both i) compensation for their effort, and ii) incentives to elicit that effort2. ‘Structural’ framework – Hierarchies are enacted (= imposed) – Differences in outcomes (status) not due to intrinsic individual attributes, but to the social positions they occupy.
How does inequality arise in class- based societies?3. ‘Rich get richer’ framework: – Hierarchies are emergent, (i.e. unintended, spontaneous) but resulting inequalities don’t reflect the efforts or talents of the individuals. – People in higher-ranking groups receive disproportionally more rewards, and those in lower- ranking groups disproportionally fewer rewards, – In other words, differences in social rewards are far greater than the differences in ‘talent’ upon which these rewards are ostensibly based.
‘Rich get richer’• Even assuming perfect equality of opportunity, and assuming everyone desires to live in a society where social rewards are based on one’s talents and/or hard work, we should not expect that the differences in the social rewards received will be proportional to the differences in the talents/efforts of the individuals!• Those with a little more ‘talent’ get disproportionately more rewards, far more than they ‘deserve’, even assuming perfect equality of opportunity! Differences in talent No talent Lots of talent Differences in social rewards
‘Rich get richer’• Do these people have talent? (acting skill, charisma, beauty, etc.)• If so, is the above-average wealth and fame they receive proportional to their above- average talents?• Why are these people wealthy and famous and not you!?
‘Rich get richer’How it works:• Our evaluations of others are socially influenced: People pay attention to how everyone else is being evaluated by everyone else.• This amplifies underlying differences between individuals and makes the rewards allotted to them disproportional to their talents and/or efforts. – Examples: i. People who are popular tend to attract more attention than non-popular people. Why? Because they are already popular! ii. Children with a reputation for being ‘bad’ are more likely to get in trouble compared to a ‘good’ kid, for doing the same things. iii. Some journal articles get cited way more than others, simply because they are more frequently cited.
‘Rich get richer’ (Summary)• The ‘rich get richer’ effect is also known as: winner-take-all effects, cascade effects, popularity tournaments, the Matthew effect, and preferential attachment.• These are all examples of positive (reinforcing) feedback.• Conclusion: even if there was total equality of opportunity, and everyone had identical talents, you should still expect hierarchies in class-based societies!
Michels’ Iron Law of Oligarchy• German sociologist Robert Michels claimed in his 1911 book Political Parties that “rule by an elite or "oligarchy" is inevitable, an “iron law” within any organization.• Democracy is a façade legitimizing the rule of a particular elite, and oligarchy is inevitable.• Why? Large organizations require bureaucracies in order to function effectively; bureaucracy entails centralization, and centralization means that power will end up in the hands of the few.