Mention Pakulski & Mulhally article on “The Death of Class”
Class and stratification in the us finalcopy
Class and Stratification inthe U.S.GS 138: Intro. to Sociology
Questions for you… How much is “social class” a factor in people‟s lives? How many social classes are there in the United States? Is there still a “middle class,” given the economic challenges of today? Can individuals change their social class location?
Common myths about social class There are 3 social classes. Class is multi-dimensional, involving wealth, power, and prestige, dimensions that are always changing. • The amount of money you earn determines your social class. Some people don‟t earn money at all. Mitt Romney has a net worth of $200 million, yet did not work in 2010. (link) Your social class depends on your individual effort. Not all societies, at all times, are 100% meritocratic (in other words, there are no obstacles to mobility).
Social StratificationDefinition: “Hierarchy of social groups based on differential control over resources”In 3rd grade geology, you learned that the earth has multiple layers. So does a society.
Slavery Five major examples of slave societies from history: ancient Greece Roman Empire United States Caribbean and Brazil. There are an estimated 27 million people held as slaves worldwide.
Caste System Status is determined at birth based on parents‟ ascribed characteristics. Cultural values sustain caste systems and caste systems grow weaker as societies industrialize. Vestiges of caste systems can remain for hundreds of years after they are officially abolished. The American South prior to the 1960‟s has been described as a unofficial caste system
The Class System • A type of stratification based on the ownership and control of resources and on the type of work people do. • Horizontal mobility occurs when people experience a gain or loss in position and/or income that does not produce a change in their place in the class structure. • Vertical mobility is movement up or down the class structure is. • Sociologists analyze class systems by observing „life chances‟ and socioeconomic statuses
Life Chances Access to resources such as food, clothing, shelter, education, and health care. Affluent people have better life chances because they have greater access to: quality education safe neighborhood nutrition and health care police protection
Socioeconomic Status (SES), Wealth, &Income A combined measure that, in order to determine class location, attempts to classify individuals, families, or households in terms of factors such as income, wealth occupation, and education. Income - wages, salaries, government aid, and property Wealth - value of economic assets, including income and property.
Measuring Social ClassAKASocioeconomic statusAKASocial class
Measuring Class in the U.S.Go to New York Times “Class Matters” WebsiteLet‟s analyze the class of several people:-Barbara, a 43 year old social worker, holds a Master‟sdegree, earns $44,000 per year, and has $60,000 inassets (banking accts., car, possessions in her house)-Tim, a 25 year old construction worker, has a high schooldiploma, earns $28,000 per year, has $4,000 in assets-Mitt, a 55 year old venture capitalist, has a J.D. degree,earns $3 million per year, has $2 billion dollars in assets-Sandy, a 58 year old senior editor, has a Bachelor‟sdegree, and earns $70,000 per year
Measuring Class in the U.S. – Discussion•What are the components of the socioeconomic status?Why use the term socioeconomic status instead of socialclass?•Compare the life chances of any one of the 4 people inthe exercise. How would these life chances affect theirability to: •Send their children to college? •Purchase a home? •Leave an inheritance for their children? •Rebound from the personal consequences of a recession?
Stratification EXAMPLES: Upper-Upper Class: Rockefeller Family Lower-Upper Class: Oprah Winfrey (worth only $2 billion) Upper-Middle Class: Physicians, Lawyers Middle Class: Librarians Working Class: Factory workers Working Poor: Fast Food Employees Underclass: Homeless, Long- Term or Routinely Employed
Consequences of Social Class in the UnitedStates1. Physical Health2. Mental Health3. Family Life Parents must approve choice of spouse in upper classes. Field of “eligible” partners is narrow for upper classes. Divorce more likely in lower classes. Children in lower classes more likely to grow up in “broken” homes.4. Cultural values Tolerance and gratification – it is easy to be tolerant of others when they do not threaten you… and it is easy to delay gratification when you know you will get what you want.5. Politics Wealthy people are involved in politics because they can see tangible results. Wealthy are economically conservative but socially liberal. Lower classes are economically liberal but socially conservative.6. Religion Class is correlated with denominational affiliation: Upper and Middle classes: Episcopalian Middle class: Methodist Lower classes: Baptist
Pew Forum onReligion and Public Life 2009 Survey Highlights: •Over 4 in 10 Hindus and Jews make over $100,000 •Nearly half of Jehovah‟s Witnessesand Members of Black Protestant churchesmake less than $30,000 Why do you think thatevangelicals and Blackprotestants make less than Jews, Hindus, or mainline protestants?
Defining Poverty Sociologists distinguish between absolute and relative poverty. Absolute poverty exists when people do not have the means to secure the most basic necessities of life. Relative poverty exists when people may be able to afford basic necessities but are still unable to maintain an average standard of living.
Official Poverty Line• The federal income standard that is based on what is considered to be the minimum amount of money required for living at a subsistence level.• “Minimally Nutritious Diet” ▫ Set in the early 1960s ▫ The amount of food necessary to keep a human alive.• Since it is known how much of what type of food it takes to provide a minimally nutritious diet, if we actually purchase that food we know how much it costs to feed a person.• “Human Needs” ▫ Food ▫ Clothing ▫ Shelter ▫ If, as is STILL taught in high schools, we only need three equally valued things and we know how much one of them costs, then simple math (i.e., food $ x 3) will produce an estimate of the money necessary to attain those three things.
Feminization of Poverty The trend in which women are disproportionately represented among individuals living in poverty. Women bear the major economic and emotional burdens of raising children when they are single heads of households but earn 70 and 80 cents for every dollar a male worker earns. More women than men are unable to obtain regular, full- time, employment.
Discussion Questions•In this video, who would be the proletariat? Who would be thebourgeoisie?•What would be the „means of production‟ at the Smithfield plant?•Do you think that the owners of Smithfield enjoy the profits at theexpense of the workers?•Marx stated that in capitalism, workers owned their labor and nothingelse.•What threat might a union pose to Smithfield? Do they pose a threat tocapitalist order?
Functionalist Perspective: Davis-Moore Thesis 1. Societies have tasks that must be accomplished and positions that must be filled. 2. Some positions are more important for the survival of society than others. 3. The most important positions must be filled by the most qualified people. 4. The positions that are the most important for society and that require scarce talent, extensive training, or both must be the most highly rewarded. 5. The most highly rewarded positions should be those that are functionally unique (no other position can perform the same function) and on which other positions rely for expertise, direction, or financing.
Testing the Davis-Moore ThesisThe Occupation Outlook Handbook, compiled by theBureau of Labor Statistics, provides comprehensivestatistics on average earnings, educational requirements,and years of on-the-job training for different occupations. Let‟s visit the site and look up some occupations.Librarians ($54,000-requires Master‟s degree)Post-Secondary Instructors ($62,050-requires Masters orPhD)Mechanic ($34,000-requires H.S. diploma)Animal Care & Service Workers-$19,000-no educationalrequirements)Firefighters ($45,000-requires H.S. diploma)
The „Functions‟ of Poverty According to Herbert Gans Taken from “The Positive Functions of Poverty” (1972)•Poverty ensures that societys dirty work •The poor help to keep the aristocracy busywill get done. as providers of charity.•subsidize a variety of economic activities•The poor, being powerless, can be madethat benefit the affluent. to absorb the costs of change and growth in American society (e.g., urban renewal vs.•Poverty creates jobs for many occupations poor removal).that serve the poor: police, gambling,peacetime army, etc. •The poor facilitate and stabilize the American political process because they•The poor buy goods others do not want vote and participate less than other groups.and thereby prolong their economicusefulness. •The poor aid the upward mobility of groups just above them in the class hierarchy•The poor can be identified and punishedas alleged or real deviants to uphold thelegitimacy of conventional norms.
Symbolic Interactionist Perspective •Focuses on how people perceive their social class and other social classes-several polls suggest that 90% of Americans consider themselves working class or middle class (Link) •The study of relative poverty lends itself well to the S-I perspective •Example-The „War on Poverty‟ in the midst of the rapidly growing economy of the 1960‟s •Symbolic interactionists also study the nature of interactions to detect ways in which members of different class interact with one another •Example-Servers in a country club
Symbolic Interactionist PerspectiveData taken from a January 2012 survey at the Pew Research Center
Sociological Explanations of SocialInequality in the U.S. Functionalist Some social inequality is necessary for the smooth functioning of society and thus is inevitable. Conflict Powerful individuals and groups use ideology to maintain their favored positions in society at the expense of others. Wealth is not necessary in order to motivate people. Symbolic The beliefs and actions of people reflect interactionist their class location in society.
U.S. Stratification in the Future Many social scientists believe that trends point to an increase in social inequality in the U.S.: The purchasing power of the dollar has stagnated or declined since the early 1970s. Wealth continues to become more concentrated at the top of the U.S. class structure. Federal tax laws in recent years have benefited corporations and wealthy families at the expense of middle and lower-income families. Disappearance of middle-income jobs („bifurcated labor market‟)
Quick QuizTrue or False?1. The conflict perspective analyzes people‟s subjective perceptions of their social standing?2. The poverty level in the U.S. is determined by the cost of a minimally adequate diet multiplied by 3. Anyone earning below that amount is considered poor.3. Social stratification is synonymous with social class.4. Socioeconomic status is a more precise definition of social ranks than social class.5. Karl Marx measured class by three factors: wealth, power, and prestige.6. It is possible to be wealthy and lack prestige OR to hold a prestigious rank in society but have little wealth.