Sociology 365 – 01: Social Stratification
Final Exam; November 15th – December 6th
Wealth Management Reading
∙ What is the problem addressed by Harrington?
o The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer.
This happens mainly through tax avoidance.
∙ What are the negative ramifications of the problem?
o The money the government loses from the top 1% hurts people who rely on government subsidies much more.
Greek government went through a significant crisis as wealthy people were barely paying any taxes at all, losing a large revenue.
∙ What is the proposed solution?
o Whenever the government tries to close tax avoidance loopholes, it takes several years to do. And when this loophole has been closed, the money has been withdrawn. o The proposed solution is, “targeted legal changes, and appealing to wealth managers sense of social solidarity.” If you want to learn more check out What is the meaning of the state of nature?
However, this is difficult as wealth managers rely on the wealthy.
Possible legal reinforcement may serve as a solution, threatening legal action to those who avoid taxes.
∙ How do wealthy people use “tax havens” (like the Cayman Islands or Netherlands) to increase the rate of return on their wealth?
o Most often, you pay income taxes where you reside. However, if you wish to get around these taxes, you may get wealth managers to set up trusts.
A. Legal Ways
1. If they are willing to be “tax exiles,” or spend a lot of their time traveling in international travel anyways, they can move their principal residency to a tax haven so that their personal income is taxed at a tax haven’s low rate.
I.e. Canadian tennis star taking principal residency in Monaco or the
2. Set up trusts or foundations to hold wealth in tax havens. The investment income made by trusts of foundations is taxed by tax havens at a very low rate. Therefore, wealth grows inside these trusts or foundations at a higher rate.
3. They can move portable assets that appreciate over time, such as jewelry or art, to warehouses in tax havens to avoid that higher capital gains taxes or wealth taxes of other jurisdictions (To do this legally, they need to be officially owned by a trust, foundation, or company). We also discuss several other topics like How do you discipline a child that won't listen?
4. They pay a very low rate of tax on earning from intellectual property businesses that can just as easily be in a tax haven as anywhere else. Don't forget about the age old question of Would socrates approve of martin luther king’s actions?
I.e. Music publishing business where fees are generated when songs are used on TV shows, played by a school band, etc.
5. Lightly regulated financial services companies (ex. Hedge companies) are often financially headquartered in tax havens. Investors in hedge funds will have to pay taxes on any money they earn from their investments, but the hedge funds themselves will avoid taxes on their commissions, etc., thus improving the rate of return. B. Borderline Way If you want to learn more check out How do you define social interaction?
o The corporations that the wealthy own set up subsidiary companies in tax havens, and internal corporate transactions are fixed such that there is little profit earned by corporate branches operating in higher tax jurisdictions while there is a hefty profit earned by branches operating in tax havens.
Nike owns a company in Bermuda which they pay trademark fees to use their ‘swoosh.’ They can charge themselves any amount for this fee, exporting income to a lower taxed jurisdiction.
C. Illegal Way
1. Use of trusts, foundations, corporations or bank accounts in a ‘secrecy jurisdiction’ to hide income which they didn’t declare and pay taxes for.
2. Use of trusts, foundation or corporations in a ‘secrecy jurisdiction’ to move money generated in illegal ways into legal industries. If you want to learn more check out Which principle is the basis of retributive theory of punishment?
∙ Acknowledgements of Indigenous Territories
o University of Calgary, 2016 We also discuss several other topics like Which surface would have the lowest albedo?
We would like to acknowledge traditional territories of the Blackfoot, and the people of treaty 7.
∙ Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta includes the: Siksika, the Piikani, the Kainai, the Tsuu T’ina, and the Stoney Nakoda First Nations.
Calgary is also home to the Metis Nation.
o Beyond Territorial Acknowledgements:
‘If we think of territorial acknowledgements as sites of potential disruption, they can be transformative acts that help to undo Indigenous erasure. I believe this is true if these acknowledgements unsettle those speaking and hearing the words. The Indigenous presence should force nonIndigenous people to
confront their place on these lands.’
o Treaty 7 was Signed in 1877 at Blackfoot Crossing beside the Bow River
From the First Nations’ perspective, Treaty 7 signatories understood the treaty to be an agreement of sharing land and resources.
∙ Didn’t give up land, they agreed to share it.
To the Crown, the treaty included surrendering traditional lands.
o Chief Crowfoot and his Family Members had all died five years following a photo taken in 1884
o Crowfoot’s Closing Speech, 1877
‘Great Father! Take pity on me with regard to my country; with regard to the land, with regard to all the animals that inhabit them, and do not take them from myself and my children forever!’
o The $5 Yearly Payment
Treaty 7 stipulated: ‘Each year, her majesty will pay said Indians in cash, at suitable places and dates, to every other Indian of whatever age, five dollars.’ RCMP officer gets First Nations people to line up in a said date and place, giving each person a $5 bill.
Social Class in the 21st Century Introduction (pp. 320) Readings
∙ (2) Savage et al. write, “Experts, of all kinds, were drawn in droves to the Great British Class Survey” (11). Why?
o One in five had participated in the survey, equaling 7 million people in Great Britain. However, experts were more represented in this survey. Lower or working class being much less represented.
o Privileged people aren’t going to be shamed, they are confirming their privilege. Unprivileged people see that it is potentially shaming, so they ignore this exercise. They already know they are disadvantaged.
∙ (4) The Great British Class Survey, when conducted through the BBC’s website, relied upon a selfselected sample that was highly biased. In what ways was this sample biased? What did Savage et al. do to compensate for the bias in the selfselected sample?
o The survey had been composed of higher classes, as they wished to either take the survey to have what they already knew affirmed, or take it jokingly. Experts and those in the upper class were greatly misrepresented as a result of this. Savage et al. rely on a variety of separate studies to support theories which they have proposed to compensate for this bias.
∙ (5) The book is based on British research on social class. How do Savage et al. think the book will be useful to people looking at social class in other countries? (pp. 1819). o They believe reading about Britain and understanding the significance of class in Britain will allow us to better reflect on class within other countries.
Social Class in the 21st Century Chapter 1 (pp. 2353) Readings
∙ (1) What is the central argument of this book? (p. 27)
o The central argument of this book is that there are no necessary class distinctions that help to unravel the way that class operates today.
∙ (2) Look at the distribution of people in Britain among the class categories developed by John Goldthorpe (Figure 2, p. 41). What are the two principles underlying Goldthorpe’s class schema? (p. 40 and p. 42)
o The two principles are that:
There is a divide between the employed and selfemployed; and
There is a further divide between the employed, this being the managerial ‘service class’ and the working class.
∙ (3) What is the new kind of “snobbery” that has emerged in recent years? How is it connected to “marketbased consumer society”? (pp. 4445)
o Cultural snobbery.
o It is connected to a marketbased consumer society as it may be used to display taste. ∙ (4) According to Pierre Bourdieu, what is the “symbolic power of class”? (p. 46) o To Bourdieu, class is associated with how some people feel entitled or dominated, and this comes through capital.
∙ (5) Carefully read the long, abstract quote from Bourdieu on pp. 4748. Make notes of any ideas you do not fully understand. Pick out the single idea you find to be most interesting. o Sociology is dependent of history – “The social world is accumulated history” o Social life is not a random process of interchangeable agents, it is structured. Different types of social stratification are fundamental, focusing on class. You must acknowledge capital and accumulated capital.
o Capital is accumulated labor, which when appropriated on a private basis by agents, enables them to appropriate social energy in the form of reified or living labor. Wealth created by human beings, and that can be traced back to their life force, or ‘social energy.’
Their privilege comes from the appropriation of labor.
o Capital is a force inscribed in objective or subjective structures, but also inscribed in the principle underlying the immanent regularities of the social world. It is what makes the games of society something other than simple games of change offering at every moment the possibility of a miracle.
∙ (6) According to Savage et al., what counts as cultural capital today? (p. 51) Connect this idea to the experiences of Melissa, Bianca and Angelica (from Galveston) in pursuing a post secondary education.
o Cultural capital cannot be set a fixed set of tastes, but rather as a mutable phenomenon. Cultural capital comes with education, and the ability to explain popular tastes.
∙ Cultural Snobbery (examples):
o University prestige hierarchy
o Lack of knowledge of same legitimate cultural genre
o Having authentic experiences and knowledge
o Travel internationally to experience the pinnacle of the earth
o Dress, manners, style, communication patterns
∙ It is more than just having a certain taste to see if you possess a new form of cultural capital. Rather, it is the ability to explain these tastes.
o Emerging cultural capital is “not about liking popular culture per say, but instead demonstrating one’s skill in navigating through the menu and popular artists.” o It is not just liking a particular thing, but having the ability to talk about it. Real cultural snobs who have this cultural capital have this ability.
o The basis of this is that you must know enough about new cultural forms to discuss the intricacies of them.
The wilder the connections you make, the more you can demonstrate your cultural supremacy.
∙ The shaming process is then identical to the past, where if you didn’t know about high culture, you couldn’t participate in those discussions.
Social Class in the 21st Century Chapter 3 (pp. 95126) Readings
∙ (1) When do cultural tastes and interests become cultural capital that “can generate resources and [social] advantages”? (p. 95)
o They become cultural capital when they are seen to be ‘legitimate’ – socially approved – and seen as respectable and worthy.
∙ (2) How has the cultural world changed since Bourdieu did his major work on cultural capital in the 1960s? (pp. 101102).
o Cultural institutions have become aware of their own elitism and have made steps to counteract this;
o Increase in economic capital and technology has increased the accessibility of culture; o There has been a rise in cultural activities not seen as ‘highbrow’ or intellectual; and o Globalization has had a large impact on cultural appreciation.
∙ (5) What is the institutional infrastructure of the new “hipster” or emerging cultural capital? (p. 113)
o The infrastructure of emerging capital can be seen in social media, in the bar, club and sporting scene, and even new emerging professional workplaces, as opposed to that found in the educational system of the old ‘highbrow’ cultural capital.
∙ (6) According to Mike Savage, is the legitimacy of emerging cultural capital grounded in particular tastes and preferences (e.g., world music, hip hop, Arcade Fire) or in the ability to coherently pick and choose what you like and don’t like, and to explain the rationale for your choices? (p. 115)
o It focuses instead on the ability to explain your choices, and why you like what you like.
∙ (7) Is class snobbery an inevitable byproduct of the cultivation of high levels of legitimate cultural capital (whether of the high culture or emerging culture varieties)? (p. 123 and p. 125). How is the new class snobbery different from the old class snobbery?
o It is not inevitable, but it seems to be in our society as it is a way that people can show that they are distinct or special. People who have cultural capital look down on those who don’t, whether it’s conscious or not.
How can you show your cultural capital?
∙ Dress/hairstyle/figures of speech
o The snobbery may be very subtle, whether it be ignoring people or giving slight rifts towards these people.
Social Class in the 21st Century Chapter 4 Overview
∙ Social Capital
o Two theoretical views of social capital are contrasted
Robert Putnam: All social engagements build social cohesion
Pierre Bourdieu: “Rather than seeing social networking as benefiting society in general, he sees it as a means of allowing the privileged and powerful to use their connections to help each other.”
o Weakties networks are very effective in conferring advantages such as useful information (133).
o “the very wealthy are distinctive in their social ties… they are systematically much more likely to have acquaintances drawn from their own elite world.” (148) o “Social capital also matters, not just for your own life outcomes, but also influences how you think about your class position, and the political power you feel you have” (158).
o There is “a degree of closure and exclusiveness at the top of the social structure, indicating forms of economic capital intersect closely with social netwroks and social capital to produce a pullingapart from the rest” (160).
∙ General Points on Social Capital
o (1) How social capital is measured (vaguely)
“Since our question asks whether you ‘know’ someone in a different
occupation, there might be ambiguity about what this entails (friendship or simply being on ‘nodding terms’)” (135).
o (2) Social ties are patterned by class “but not closed. Many of us know people from across the social hierarchy” (149).
The Spirit Level (Ted Talk) – How Economic Inequality Harms Societies – R. Wilkinson
∙ The average income of a country has no connection to the average lifespan of that country, but within these countries there is. Richer households having longer lifespans, and poorer households having shorter.
o More unequal societies however do have a correlation, more equal societies having less social problems.
o Wellbeing of societies isn’t determined by the wealth of a nation, but instead the equality of a society.
This is the same with trust of others, mental illness levels, homicide rates, incarceration percentages, high school dropout rates, and social mobility.
In conclusion, income inequality leads to bigger differences in health problems, and social problems.
∙ The benefits of equality do not reach only to law income families, but also to high income families.
o The most difference is at the bottom, but also some at the top.
∙ Tasks with social evaluative concerns were the most likely to stress individuals. ∙ Quality of life can be improved through decreasing the inequality of society. ∙ Income Inequality Graph
o Japan has the smallest income gap at roughly 3:1, with the Nordic countries right behind.
o Canada is around the center, at around roughly 6:1.
o The US is the nation with the second highest income gap at 8.5:1.
∙ Child WellBeing is Better in More Equal Rich Countries
o This is the case for a majority of nations, however Japan is an exception. Childwell being low in Japan, the same as countries with much more inequality.
∙ Levels of Trust are Higher in More Equal US States
∙ The Prevalence of Mental Illness is Higher in More Unequal Rich Countries o Definitions of mental illness, and availability to statistics does make this graph slightly unreliable.
o There are also a few countries who do not fit the example at all, Italy being the most prominent.
It has the lowest reported percentage of mental illness despite it’s above average income inequality.
∙ Death Rates by Occupational Class, for Working Age Men
o The direct comparison between England and Sweden.
England (More inequality) has much more deaths among the lower class, this number decreasing as we look towards more wealthy classes.
∙ Low (1) class – 790; (2) – 675; (3) – 625; High (4) class – 525
Sweden (More equality) has a much lower death count per all occupational classes.
∙ Low (1) class – 450; (2) – 425; (3) – 425; High (4) class – 375
o No matter the occupational class, it is better to live in Sweden.
‘Equality is better for everyone’
o It is still better to live in the lowest occupational class in Sweden then the highest occupational class in England.
o It is suggested in The Spirit Level that a situation becoming more equal would benefit everyone, and would as a result move ‘the line’ down, benefiting everyone living in society.
However, it is more likely that the most disadvantaged would benefit the most from the increase of equality in a society.
∙ Langford stated that the book should have been substated “How
equality is better for almost everyone, but a lot better for working
people and the middle class”
∙ Spirit Level criticisms:
o They ignore countries who go against their data too much;
o Their subtitle doesn’t properly cover what their data states;
o The Japan/Nordic grouping of low inequality countries is problematic; Just because a country is low inequality, it doesn’t mean there are good outcomes across the board.
∙ Different reasons for low inequality, resulting in different wellbeing in society.
∙ How a country gets to low inequality matters for outcomes.
Japan is actually a highly status conscious society despite its low inequality. ∙ High status competition despite low income inequality.
o All of the causal hypotheses in the status competition model can be questioned and require additional research
Critics of the Spirit Level point out that there is no testing for the data provided in this text.
The Complexity of Intersectionality
∙ Problems Addressed in this Article
o Leslie McCall identifies a methodological problem in studies of intersectionality – a limited range of methodological approaches has been deployed.
o Specifically, researchers have generally rejected the use of methodologies “that are considered to simplistic or reductionist” given the complexity of the subject matter.
o Her primary goal is “a substantive one – to expand research on intersectionality (social identities, systems of oppression, discrimination, etc. intersect to create a whole)”
∙ Three Fundamentally Different Types of Research on Intersectionality o Anticategorical Complexity:
From Feminist Poststructuralism
Ontology – (Philosophy of being)
∙ “Social life is considered too irreducibly complex – overflowing with multiple and flued determinations of both subjects and structures – to
make fixed categories anything but simplifying social fictions that
produce inequalities in the process of producing differences.”
∙ Poststructuralist assumption is that “language creates categorical
reality rather than the other way around.”
o We impose categories on reality based on our assumptions.
Epistemology: (Philosophy of knowing)
∙ “Based on a methodology that deconstructs analytical categories.”
o Deconstruction of categories is part of the deconstruction of
o Intracategorical Complexity:
From AntiRacist Feminists, Queer Sociologists, Etc.
Most common approach that sociologists will use, it being qualitative. Ontological focus:
∙ “Particular groups at neglected points of intersection … to reveal the
complexity of lived experience within such groups.”
∙ Interrogates categories but “acknowledges the stable and even durable relationships that social categories represent at any given point in
Explication of the Approach of Intracategorical Complexity
∙ Critical of the “broad and sweeping acts of categorization” rather than all categorization.
∙ Approach is to complicate and use categories in a more critical way.
∙ Focuses on the single group represented by the individual. “The
intersection of identities takes place through the articulation of a single
dimension of each category.”
o Ex. An Arab American, middleclass, heterosexual woman is
placed at the intersection of multiple categories but only
reflects a single dimension of each.
∙ Intracategorical complexity is studied using personal narratives or
∙ Case studies can identify new or invisible groups at the intersection of multiple categories.
o Intercategorical Complexity:
From Postpositivist Researchers
A.K.A. ‘the categorical approach’
∙ Relationships of inequality among already constituted groups, as
imperfect and ever changing as they are.
∙ Underlying structures that cannot be easily observed shape social life. These structures exist beyond the discourses that humans use to try
and understand them.
∙ Realisms basic premise is that the real world puts limits on knowledge so that not all interpretations are equally plausible.
∙ Critical realism relies on theoretical knowledge about unobservable
∙ Leslie McCall (author of Complexity of Intersectionality) takes the intersectionality approach. This is an example she used in her book.
o She used descriptive and causal research questions:
‘Were all women better off and all men worse off in the new economy?” “Were the causes and solutions the same among men and women?”
o Her research:
Her quantitative study systematically analyzed configurations of wage inequalities across three social categories (class, race, gender) taken two at a time in four distinct urban settings (hightech manufacturing, immigrant, postindustrial and industrial) in the new economy.
Social Class in the 21st Century Chapter 5 (pp. 163181) Readings
∙ (1) What did Bourdieu mean when he argued that there was “homology” between the three types of capital? (p. 167) For which of the 7 classes listed in Table 5.1 (p. 169) does the homology principle appear to be operative?
o He meant that there is a tendency for the three types of capital to merge together. They lead to very distinct social classes.
o They appear to be operative to the wealthy elite, proletariat, established middleclass, and working middleclass.
∙ (2) Why do Savage et al. not use the term “underclass” to label the social class with the lowest overall levels of economic, cultural and social capital? What name do they use instead? (p. 171)
o They use the ‘precariat’ instead of underclass, as they do not want to make it seem that the underclass is as negative thing in its own.
o It is deliberately used to point to the systemic position of the precariat in the social order instead of blame them for their position.
∙ (3) According to Savage et al., what are the two “major modes of differentiation and contestation” “within the middle reaches of the class structure”? (p. 180)
o The two modes are ‘age’ and ‘expertise.’
Expertise seems to be more important when looking towards the middleclass, as there are less wellpaying jobs given through connections, and instead looking towards skills.
∙ Ex. Trades
Social Class in the 21st Century Chapter 4 Overview
∙ The Precarious Precariat
Very low amounts of all the kinds of capital.
Approximately 15% of the British population.
Did not tend to participate in the BBC survey.
∙ Therefore ‘rendering their invisibility more visible is vital to bringing contemporary class relationships to light.’
∙ Worlds of Shame and Stigma
o Unfair, patronizing and mean representations of poor people and the places where they live are everywhere in the UK.
o Working class cultural practices are ‘pathologized, encoded as immoral, wrong and criminal.’
o Using Bourdieu’s term, this is a process of ‘symbolic violence.’
Symbolic violence against the working class has intensified.
∙ Qualitative Research on “Precariat Worlds”
o Lesley was asked about her “tastes and interests, so how often do you watch television?”
o She replied, “From when I get up in the morning, from six in the morning till six at night. Then it’s sex every night every week.”
Lesley parodies to demonstrate the strong awareness of the negative
stereotyping of the working class.
∙ On the Violence of Gentrification in London
Moving of wealthy people to poor communities, displacing poor families. o The precariousness is about the rate of change, and the lack of security families have from keeping work to pay their increasing rents.
o There is constant anxiety about what will happen to friends and neighbors, whom they fear will be stranded among middle class media types.
∙ Successful Interview Technique
o Use of the Great British Class Survey as a tool in a more qualitative ethnographic way allowed those who did not participate to joke about it and put their lives in a different context.
∙ How Cultural Capital Works in People’s Lives
o Cultures of classification and hierarchization proliferate, and can be used to create and reproduce elitism and stigma.
o Workers like Lesley showed awareness of how cultural capital works. However, things like humor, community and fun are the most important.
∙ Who Are the Precariat?
o People living and working precariously, usually in short term jobs, without recourse to stable occupation.
o They are increasingly frustrated and angry, but also dangerous because they have no voice, hence vulnerable to calls of extreme political parties.
This was prior to Brexit and the election of Trump.
∙ However, it’s not just the precariat who are being called by these
o Underclass is often used to blame people for their own misfortunes. The term ‘precariat’ draws direct attention to the way that the vulnerability of these groups is linked to their structural location in society.
∙ On the Precariat’s Partial Invisibility
o Although the precariat are highly visible, and the bad taste behind the practice of vilifying them, the value they have remains invisible.
o Today’s class culture is too loaded towards the privileged to allow them a place.
Social Class in the 21st Century Conclusion (pp. 389406) Readings
∙ (1A) Do the data in Tables C.1 (p. 394) and C.2 (p. 397) convince you that countries like Britain have come to “the end of oldfashioned class politics based on the fundamental cleavage between the working and middle classes which had dominated political mobilization during the twentieth century” (p. 396).
o I am not convinced of this, as there continue to be large differences in voting based on residence and occupation.
∙ Ex. Public sectors and university graduates were more likely to vote for the NDP in the last Albertan provincial election.
∙ Class and cultural capital have a large role still.
∙ (1B) Come up with a Marxian reply to Savage et al.’s assertion, “We doubt that a focus on ‘working class politics’ has much purchase today” (p. 392)
o The proletariat on the planet is larger than it ever has been, and we can see this if we were to look at the planet as a whole.
∙ (2) Which of the theories of inequality that we studied in Olsen’s book would support the view that the inequalities produced by a competitive capitalist system “are desirable insofar as they act to motivate people to work hard, be ambitious and strive to innovate” (p. 398)?
o Social Darwinism (Survival of the Fittest)
∙ Although, you may also argue for Structural Functionalism and Meritocracy.