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Chapter 7 textbook notes

by: Sharon Stambouli

Chapter 7 textbook notes Sociology 113

Marketplace > Suffolk University > Social Science > Sociology 113 > Chapter 7 textbook notes
Sharon Stambouli
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includes sociologists in action and textbook examples
Introduction to Sociology
Professor Wiltz
Class Notes
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Sharon Stambouli on Monday March 7, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Sociology 113 at Suffolk University taught by Professor Wiltz in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 32 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Sociology in Social Science at Suffolk University.


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Date Created: 03/07/16
Sociology CHAPTER 7 Stratification and Social Class SOCIAL STRATIFICATION: how societies distribute the things of value to them and rank groups of people according to their access to what is valued. Almost everyone everywhere places a high value on money. o Example: Great Recession of 2008 caused by the combination of desire for money and a lack of government oversight of banking practices. The stock market suffered the worst decline since this event, and the housing market collapsed. The working poor were the most affected. While the U.S. economy has begun to recover from this, the growth has been uneven, and inequality has increased. Today, the richest 1% of U.S. households owns more wealth than the entire bottom 90% combined. Theories of Social Stratification … Classical Theories: conflict theory is the most useful in examining social stratification. Weber and Marx focused on examining and explaining inequality in society. ü Karl Marx: examined how power is unequally distributed and how we might change society to make this distribution process fair. Divided society into two classes: o The Bourgeoisie (owners): those who own the means of production o The Proletariat (workers): those who work for them, who would eventually develop “class consciousness” and overthrow the bourgeoisie. ü Max Weber: recognized that non-owners who possess useful skills can also have some power. He did not envision a class uprising. He added a third class, o The Middle Class: those who had skills based on knowledge. As societies became more complicated and technologically advanced, the skills of the middle class would become more in demand than those of the working class and would be paid more and have greater access to the things valued in society. … Contemporary Theories Power Elite Theories: modern offshoot of the classic conflict perspective, which represents the dominant perspective in studies of economic and political power. Many people do not bother participating in the political process because they feel alienated from it. ü C.W. Mills and William Domhoff: noted that a relatively small, organized group of people hold key positions in the major institutions of society and make continuous efforts toward keeping themselves in power. o C.W. Mills: noted a connection between key players in the military, corporations, and the government. o William Domhoff: argued that there is a “ruling class” composed of interrelated leaders in the corporate, political, and policy-planning network worlds. (These members grew up together and went to the same private schools), they “rule” America. ü Charles Derber: global level. Describes a world in which corporations, rather than nations, dominate. Governments act disproportionately in the interest of global corporations rather than their own citizens. He calls for a global movement such as the Occupy movement and put “People before profit” to reduce inequality. SOCIAL CLASS Most Americans think they belong to the Middle Class. They also believe that the country’s money is well distributed between its classes, but in reality, the chart that shows how they perceive money distribution belongs to Sweden’s economy. o Sweden is the nation with the greatest economic equality 20% of Americans actually own approximately 84% of the wealth. We need to recognize economic inequality in order to understand the influence of social class on our society and on the lives of individual people. People in the same social class have relatively equal access to what is valued in their society and have similar lifestyles. Sex and race can also relate to social class. ü Middle Class in the United States: have some college education, have professions with salaries rather than wages, and earn within a specific rage around the median income. In order to attain class ranking in the middle class one needs at least: a high level of education (most accessible), connections to those in power, and a legacy of wealth passed down. Broken down into two groups: o Middle class: white-collar workers. Requires at least a bachelor’s degree. o Working class: blue or pink-collar workers. These usually don’t require as much education and pay less. Social Class and Political Representation Voter turnout is strongly related to social class. Poor and working-class people are much less likely to vote than middle-class and wealthier Americans. o Homeless people without proof of residence face difficulties in exercising their vote. o Education affects voter turnout as well. o College campuses get lots of attention but no one reaches young people who work in retail, service industries, and manufacturing. (Little education) o The amount of money people must be able to raise to establish a legitimate campaign prohibits the vast majority of people from running for such positions. The Power of Organized People Although civic organizations do not exist in a very big size and number, grassroots political organizations successfully represent lower income Americans. These accomplish the vital task of giving voice to poor and working- class people. o Examples of civic groups: churches, synagogues, nonprofits, parent organizations, and unions. These teach people how to use the “sociological eye” and “sociological imagination”. o Example 2: IAF (Industrial Areas Foundation), they organize for power. Their ability to organize allows them to act as a kind of mediating institution for the poor, working, and middle classes to negotiate with those who have financial and political power. o Example 3: the National Employment Law Project (NELP) created fairer minimum-wage laws with their “Raise the Minimum Wage” campaign. o Example 4: Obama’s experience as a community organizer and mobilizer of largely ignored groups of people in Chicago helped him during his campaigns for the presidency. SOCIOLOGIST IN ACTION: FRANCES FOX PIVEN: she puts her knowledge into action in the political area. She used her research to expand welfare benefits and enfranchise the poor. She has fought an unrelenting battle against the “welfare reform” and has been a consistent proponent of the politics of disruption and mass protest. SOCIOLOGIST IN ACTION: ADRIAN CHEVRAUX-FITZHUG: used sociological tools to examine people’s knowledge about “corporate personhood” and their attitudes toward corporate involvement in political elections. He designed a countywide telephone survey for Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County, which revealed that 35% of the people were unfamiliar with this concept. These results made him want to educate citizens about the relationships between corporations and democracy in the USA, to abolish corporate personhood.


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