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UI SOC 2810 - Social Inequality

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Chapter 1(“*” = Pay extra attention to when studying for quizzes and tests)Inequalities shape how people liveOpportunities for “better life”Mental healthLife expectancyEconomic expansion or stagnationSocial forcesSystematic social forces creates rich people and poor people based on influence and power distributionRace, ethnicity, and gender structured inequalities existDefinitions and ConceptsSocial differentiation: people with distinct qualities and social roles. No ranking or hierarchy involvedSocial inequality: condition whereby people have unequal access to valued resources and positions in societySocial stratification: social inequality is institutionalized.Creating a system of social relationships that determines who gets what…Ascription: when class or strata placement is hereditary*Achievement: when placement is due to qualities controlled by individuals*Class division and social mobilityClass: group of individuals with similar positions, political and economic interestsClasses are based on:Occupational structureAuthority structureProperty structureClass division in the USUpper class: families or groups with high property ownership, thus high authority tooEx. Bill gates, very wealthy (In most cases the wealthy are wealthy because they were born into it, not achieved it).Corporate class: people with high authority and power in major corporations and government.Ex. Presidents, vice presidents, corporate board members, etc.Middle class: people with littler property, high to middle positions in occupation and authorityEx. Doctor, teacher, etc. (wide range)Working class: little or no property, middle to low positions in occupation and authorityEx. People who work for minimum wageLower class: no property, often unemployed. The poor.Ex. Homeless, etc.Status and ClassStatus: can be a position in a social structure.Ex. Student, father, etc.Or it can be a social position generally based on occupational prestige. We’ll use this definition.Social MobilityDefinition:It is a individual or group movement within the class system. It can be vertical or horizontalVertical: the movement of individuals up and down the class systemHorizontal: movement across positions of equal rankSocial mobility is a combination of ascription and achievement. Which one is greater?Stratification in the world systemModern world system theory considers nations to be ranked in ways similar to the international system of social stratificationChapter 2 (Dimension of Inequality in the US)Income and wealth InequalityIncome and wealth is highly correlated to power and influenceIncome: money, wages periodically received as return from an occupation or investmentWealth: accumulated assets such as real estate, stocks, bonds, etc.Income is distributed unequally in the US, ….but wealth is even more unequal.Income InequalityWhite families11.4% less than 15,000 dollars/year4.1% income of 200,000 or moreblack families23.4% less than 15,000 dollars/year1.2% incomes of 200,000 or moreHispanic families:16.5% less than 15,000 dollars/year1.7% income of 200,000 or moreAsian families:11.7% less than 15,000 dollars/year7.7% income of 200,000 or moreTable 2-2The lowest 20% of households receive 3.4% of aggregate incomeThe highest 20% of households receive 50.4% of aggregate income(Also see table 2-3)The CEO’s caseThe gap between the average worker’s pay and the top corporate executive went from40 to 1 in 1990 to419 to 1 in 1998read page 25 about bonuses received b the main corporations CEOsGini IndexName after Italian statistician Corrado GiniThe Gini coefficient is a measure of the inequality of a distributionA value of 0.0 expressing complete equality and a value of 1.0 maximal inequality (one person or family has all the income).(see figure 2-2)Comparative Income InequalitySee tables 2-4 and 2-5By 1980 the US had the highest income inequality among all industrial nationsThis fact is still holds since thenSee table 2-6CEO salaries compared to other countries and pay gap between average worker and CEOWealthy InequalitySee table 2-7The wealthiest 20% of Americans hold over 84% of the wealth in 2004The lowest 20% in terms of wealth show a negative wealth (-0.5%)Comparative Wealth InequalitySee table 2-10The us is the second highest at 70% of wealth held by the top 10% of Americans (the highest is Switzerland with 71%)The rest of industrialized countries range from 39-59%Inequality of basic NecessitiesHealth inequalitiesGood health is also unequally distributedThere are two opposing principles of health distribution:1. pricing mechanism: those who can afford it get it OR2. principle of need: those in greatest need get it firstthe distribution of health care in the US is based more on th ability to paygenerally, inMedicare and MedicaidIn 1965 these programs were createdMedicaid does not pay for all kinds of medical needsDoctors accepting Medicaid receive 80% of standard feeStudies show that this medical care is of lower quality compared to the one received by the more affluentStories of Michael and DavidMichael: from poor African American familyDavid: Born into rich white family and inherited a lot of moneyCONTINUEDIn 2000 the WHO ranked the US health care system in the 37th position among 191 other nations. Costa Rica was 36th and Cuba was 39th.Reasons:Political InequalitiesOutcomes of political process that favor some class interests more than othersThose on top receive more of the services or outputs provided by government agenciesHowever, the benefits of people on the bottom distribution are the ones most likely to be cut back in time of government crisis.TaxesTax policies are meant that those most able to pay would pay more taxes (progressive taxation).80% of taxes revenues come from individuals income taxes and SS deductionsSee table 2-12Individuals income taxes have been increasing while corporate taxes have decreasingSee table 2-12The biggest beneficiaries of tax breaks have been large corporationsGovernment ServicesWelfare versus WealthfareIn addition to providing welfare for the poor, the federal government provides subsidies to many industriesIt can be argued that government services that help the wealthy and corporations also help the general publicIf we find that the wealthy has more resources to influence government policies, we must recognize that it is their interest that are probably most servedWhat is another important element that is subject to inequality in the US?Answer: EDUCATION (Political,


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