Chapter 9. Social Inequality in Canada
Figure 9.1. The automobile a person drives deserve to be viewed as a prize of money and power. What go a Rolls-Royce signify about its owner? Why? (Photo courtesy the dave_7/Flickr)

Learning Objectives

9.1. What Is society Inequality?

Break the concept of society inequality into its ingredient parts: society differentiation, social stratification, and social distribution of wealth, income, power, and status.Define the difference in between equality of opportunity and also equality of condition.Distinguish in between caste and also class systems.Distinguish in between class and also status.Identify the structural basis because that the various classes the exist in capitalist societies.

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9.2. Society Inequality and also Mobility in Canada

Define the difference between relative and also absolute poverty.Describe the present trend of boosting inequalities that wealth and also income in Canada.Distinguish the the differences in between Marx’s and also Weber’s interpretations of social class and also explain why they are significant.Characterize the social conditions of the owning class, the center class, and also the classic working course in Canada.Apply the research on society mobility to the question of whether Canada is a meritocracy.Recognize social markers that are supplied to display course identity.

9.3. Worldwide Stratification and also Inequality

Define worldwide inequality.Describe various sociological models because that understanding global inequality.Understand just how sociological studies identify worldwide inequalities.

9.4. Theoretical Perspectives on society Inequality

Understand and apply functionalist, an important sociological and interpretive perspectives on society inequality.

Introduction to social Inequality in Canada

Figure 9.2. The Ted Rogers statue v Ted Rogers Centre because that Heart research in the background. Who gets monumentalized in Canada, and also who it s okay forgotten? (Image courtesy of Oaktree/Wikimedia Commons)

When he passed away in 2008, Ted Rogers Jr., then CEO the Rogers Communications, was the fifth-wealthiest separation, personal, instance in Canada, hold assets precious $5.7 billion. In his autobiography (2008) he attributed his success to a willingness to take risks, job-related hard, bending the rules, it is in on the constant look-out because that opportunities, and be devoted to building the business. In many respects, he observed himself together a self-made billionaire who began from scratch, seized opportunities, and also created a business through his own initiative.

The story the Ted Rogers is not precisely a rags to riches one, however. His grandfather, Albert Rogers, was a director of imperial Oil (Esso) and also his father, Ted Sr., came to be wealthy when he designed an alternating current vacuum pipe for radios in 1925. Ted Rogers Sr. Walk from this invention to production radios, owning a radio station, and acquiring a licence because that TV broadcasting.

However, Ted Sr. Passed away when Ted Jr. Was 5 years old, and also the family businesses were sold. His mom took Ted Jr. aside once he was eight and also told him, “Ted, your service is to obtain the family name back” (Rogers, 2008). The household was tho wealthy sufficient to send the to upper Canada College, the famous private institution that likewise educated the children from the Black, Eaton, Thompson, and also Weston families. Ted seized the opportunity at upper Canada to make money together a bookie, taking bets on horse racing indigenous the various other students. Climate he attended Osgoode Hall law School, where reportedly his secretary saw classes and also took notes for him. That bought an early FM radio station once he to be still in university and started in cable TV in the mid-1960s. By the time of his death, Rogers interactions was precious $25 billion. At the time simply three families, the Rogers, Shaws, and Péladeaus, owned much of the cable business in Canada.

At the other end of the spectrum space the aboriginal gang members in the Saskatchewan Correctional Centre who we questioned in chapter 1 (CBC, 2010). The CBC program listed that 85 percent of the inmates in the jail were of indigenous descent, half of who were connected in aboriginal gangs. Additionally the statistics profile of indigenous youth in Saskatchewan is grim, with indigenous people consisting of the highest number of high institution dropouts, residential abuse victims, drug dependencies, and child poor backgrounds. In some respects the indigenous gang members interviewed were choose Ted Rogers in the they to be willing to seize opportunities, take risks, bend rules, and apply us to their vocations. They too aspired to getting the money the would give them the freedom to make their own lives. However, as among the inmates put it, “the only job I ever had was offering drugs” (CBC, 2010). The an effect of that was to autumn into a way of living that led to joining a gang, being kicked the end of school, emerging issues through addiction, and also eventually acquiring arrested and incarcerated. Unequal Ted Rogers, however, the inmate added, “I didn’t flourish up through the finest life” (CBC, 2010).

How perform we make sense of the divergent stories? Canada is claimed to be a country in i beg your pardon individuals can work difficult to get ahead. It is one “open” society. There are no formal or clearly class, gender, racial, ethnic, geographical, or other limits that prevent people from increasing to the top. Human being are cost-free to do choices. However does this adequately describe the difference in life chances that division the fortunes that the indigenous youth native those the the Rogers family? What identify a person’s society standing? and also how does society standing direct or border a person’s choices?

The French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002) identified ones habitus as the deeply sit schemas, habits, feelings, dispositions, and forms that know-how that human being hold as result of their certain social backgrounds, cultures, and life experience (1990). Bourdieu referred to it together ones “feel for the game,” to use a sporting activities metaphor. Selections are perhaps constantly “free” in part formal sense, but they are additionally always positioned within one’s habitus. The aboriginal gang members display screen a certain amount of street smarts that allow them come survive and successfully navigate your world. Street smarts specify their habitus and exercise a profound affect over the variety of options that are available for them to think about — the communities they recognize to avoid, the human body languages that signal danger, the worths of illegal goods, the motives of various street actors, the routines the police interactions, etc. The habitus influence both the alternatives to conform come the group they determine with or deviate indigenous it. Ted Rogers lived in a various habitus which developed a basically different set of options for him in his life path. How are the different lifeworlds or habitus spread in culture so that part reinforce fads of deprivation when others administer the communication for access to wealth and also power?

As Bourdieu sharp out, habitus is so deep ingrained that we take its fact as herbal rather 보다 as a product of society circumstances. This has the unfortunate effect of justifying society inequalites based the id that the Ted Rogers the the world were normally gifted and also predisposed because that success when in truth it is success itself the is “predisposed” by underlying structures of power and also privilege.

9.1. What Is social Inequality?

Figure 9.3. In the upper echelons that the functioning world, civilization with the most power reach the top. These people make the decisions and earn the most money. The majority of Canadians will never ever see the watch from the top. (Photo courtesy of Alex Proimos/Flickr)

Sociologists use the term social inequality to describe the unequal circulation of valued resources, rewards, and positions in a society. An essential to the concept is the concept of social differentiation. Social features — differences, identities, and also roles — are used to identify people and divide lock into various categories, which have implications because that social inequality. Social differentiation by chin does no necessarily imply a division of individuals into a pecking order of rank, privilege, and also power. However, as soon as a social classification like class, occupation, gender, or race puts civilization in a place in which castle can insurance claim a greater share of resources or services, then social differentiation becomes the communication of social inequality.

The hatchet social stratification refers to an institutionalized device of society inequality. It describes a instance in i beg your pardon the divisions and relationships of social inequality have actually solidified right into a device that determines that gets what, when, and why. You may remember words “stratification” indigenous geology class. The distinctive horizontal layers found in rock, called “strata,” space a an excellent way to visualize social structure. Society’s layers space made of people, and society’s sources are spread unevenly transparent the layers. The people who have more resources stand for the peak layer that the social framework of stratification. Other teams of people, with significantly fewer and fewer resources, stand for the lower layers of ours society. Society stratification assigns human being to socioeconomic strata based upon factors prefer wealth, income, race, education, and also power. The inquiry for sociologists is exactly how systems that stratification come to be formed. What is the communication of systematic social inequality in society?

Figure 9.4. Strata in rock highlight social stratification. Human being are sorted, or layered, right into social categories. Plenty of factors recognize a person’s social standing, such as income, education, occupation, age, race, gender, and even physical abilities. (Photo courtesy of just a Prairie Boy/Flickr)

In Canada, the leading ideological presumption about social inequality is the everyone has actually an equal opportunity at success. This is the id in equality that opportunity, which can be contrasted v the concept of equality of condition. Equality of problem is the case in which anyone in a society has a similar level the wealth, status, and also power. Although degrees of equality of problem vary markedly in modern-day societies, it is clean that even the many egalitarian cultures today have substantial degrees that inequality of condition. Equality of opportunity, top top the other hand, is the idea the everyone has an equal possibility of becoming successful. It exist when human being have the same chance to pursue economic or social rewards. This is often seen together a role of equal accessibility to education, meritocracy (where separation, personal, instance merit determines society standing), and formal or informal measures to eliminate social discrimination. Ultimately, equality that opportunity way that inequalities of problem are not so an excellent that they substantially hamper a who life chances. Even if it is Canada is a society characterized by equality of possibility or not is a topic of substantial sociological debate.

To a details extent, Ted Rogers’ story illustrates the id in equality that opportunity. His personal narrative is one in which hard work and also talent — not natural privilege, birthright, prejudicial treatment, or societal worths — established his society rank. This emphasis on self-effort is based on the belief that people individually manage their own social standing, i beg your pardon is a crucial piece in the idea of equality that opportunity. Many people connect inequalities of wealth, status, and power come the individual qualities of those who succeed or fail. The story of the indigenous gang members, although that is likewise a story of personal choices, casts that belief into doubt. That is clear that the kind of choices obtainable to the aboriginal gang members space of a different selection and top quality than those obtainable to the Rogers family. The easily accessible choices are a product the habitus.

Sociologists recognize that social stratification is a society-wide device that provides inequalities apparent. While over there are always inequalities in between individuals, sociologists are interested in larger social patterns. Social inequality is not about individual inequalities, but around systematic inequalities based upon group membership, class, gender, ethnicity, and other variables the structure access to rewards and status. In various other words, sociologists space interested in assessing the structural problems of society inequality. There room of course distinctions in individuals’ abilities and also talents that will influence their life chances. The larger question, however, is just how inequality becomes systematically structured in economic, social, and also political life. In regards to individual ability: that gets the methods to develop their abilities and also talents, and who go not? whereby does “ability” or “talent” come from? together we live in a society that emphasizes the individual — i.e., individual effort, separation, personal, instance morality, individual choice, separation, personal, instance responsibility, individual talent, etc. — it is often difficult to watch the means in i beg your pardon life chances are socially structured.

Figure 9.5. The people who live in these homes most most likely share comparable levels of income and also education. Neighbourhoods regularly house world of the very same social standing. Wealthy family members do not commonly live following door come poorer families, though this varies depending on the specific city and country. (Photo courtesy the Orin Zebest/Flickr)

Factors that specify stratification differ in various societies. In most contemporary societies, stratification is regularly indicated by differences in wealth, the net value of money and also assets a person has, and also  income, a person’s wages, salary, or investment dividends. That can also be identified by distinctions in power (how many human being a person must take orders indigenous versus just how many people a human can offer orders to) and status (the level of honour or prestige one has actually in the eye of others). These 4 factors produce a complex amalgam that specifies individuals’ society standing within a hierarchy.

Usually the four determinants coincide, as in the situation of corporate CEOs, like Ted Rogers, in ~ the peak of the hierarchy—wealthy, powerful, and prestigious — and also the aboriginal offenders in ~ the bottom — poor, powerless, and also abject. Sociologists usage the ax status consistency to explain the consistency of one individual’s rank across these factors. However, we can additionally think the someone favor the Canadian prime minister who ranks high in power, however with a value of about $320,000 earns much less than equivalent executives in the exclusive sector (albeit eight times the mean Canadian salary). The prime minister’s condition or prestige also rises and falls v the vagaries of politics. The Nam-Boyd range of status ranks politicians at 66/100, the same status as cable TV technicians (Boyd, 2008). There is status inconsistency in the element minister’s position. Similarly, teachers regularly have high levels of education, which give them high status (92/100 follow to the Nam-Boyd scale), however they receive fairly low pay. Many think that teaching is a noble profession, therefore teachers have to do their work for love of their profession and the an excellent of their students, not for money. However no successful executive or businessman would adopt that perspective in the company world, where earnings are valued together a driving force. Cultural attitudes and also beliefs like these support and perpetuate social inequalities.

Systems that Stratification

Sociologists distinguish between two varieties of systems of stratification. Closed solution accommodate tiny change in society position. They perform not enable people to transition levels and do no permit social relations between levels. Open up systems, i m sorry are based upon achievement, permit movement and also interaction in between layers and classes. Various systems reflect, emphasize, and also foster certain social values, and also shape separation, personal, instance beliefs. This distinction in stratification systems deserve to be examined by the comparison in between class systems and also caste systems.

The Caste System
Figure 9.6. India provided to have a strictly caste system. The civilization in the lowest caste endured from extreme poverty and were shunned through society. Some facets of India’s defunct caste system remain socially relevant. The Indian woman in this photo is the a specific Hindu caste. (Photo courtesy the Elessar/Flickr)

Caste systems are closed stratification solution in which people can do tiny or nothing to change their social standing. A caste system is one in which people are born into their social standing and also remain in that their whole lives. It is based on fixed or rigid status distinctions, fairly than economic classes per se. Together we detailed above, status is characterized by the level the honour or reputation one obtain by virtue of member in a group. Sociologists do a difference between ascribed condition — a status one obtain by virtue of gift born into a category or team (e.g., hereditary position, gender, race, etc.) —and achieved status — a condition one receives with individual effort or merits (e.g., occupation, educational level, ethical character, etc.). Caste solution are based upon a hierarchy of ascribed statuses, based upon being born right into fixed caste groups.

In a caste system, therefore, civilization are assigned roles regardless of your talents, interests, or potential. Marital relationship is endogamous, definition that marriage between castes is forbidden. One exogamous marriage is a union of people from various social categories. There are virtually no methods to enhance one’s social position. Instead the relationship between castes is bound by institutionalized rules, and highly ritualistic procedures come right into play when world from different castes come into contact.

The feudal systems of Europe and Japan deserve to in some ways be viewed as caste systems in that the statuses of positions in the society stratifications solution were fixed, and there was tiny or no opportunity for motion through marriage or economic opportunities. In Europe, the legacy system separated the populace into clergy (first estate), nobility (second estate), and also commoners (third estate), which consisted of artisans, merchants, and peasants. In early on European feudalism, it was still feasible for a peasant or a warrior to accomplish a high place in the clergy or nobility, yet later the departments became much more rigid. In Japan, in between 1603 and 1867, the mibunsei system divided culture into five rigid strata in which society standing to be inherited. In ~ the height was the emperor, climate court noble (kuge), army commander-in-chief (shogun), and the land-owning lords (daimyo). Beneath them were 4 classes or castes: the military nobility (samurai), peasants, craftsmen, and also merchants. The sellers were considered the shortest class since they did not develop anything through their own hands. Over there was likewise an outcast or untouchable caste well-known as the burakumin, who were considered impure or defiled due to the fact that of your association v death: executioners, undertakers, slaughterhouse workers, tanners, and also butchers (Kerbo, 2006).

However, the caste system is probably finest typified by the mechanism of stratification the existed in India native 4,000 years back until the 20th century. In the Hindu caste tradition, people were likewise expected to occupational in the occupation of their caste and also to go into into marriage according to your caste. Originally there were 4 castes: Brahmans (priests), Kshatriyas (military), Vaisyas (merchants), and also Sudras (artisans, farmers). In addition there to be the Dalits or Harijans (“untouchables”). Hindu scripture said, “In order to preserve the universe, Brahma (the Supreme) resulted in the Brahmin to continue from his mouth, the Kshatriya to proceed from his arm, the Vaishya to continue from his thigh, and also the Shudra to proceed from his foot” (Kashmeri, 1990). Accepting this society standing was thought about a moral duty. Social values and economic constraints reinforced the system. Caste equipment promote beliefs in fate, destiny, and also the will of a higher power, quite than promoting individual freedom as a value. A human being who resided in a caste society was socialized to accept his or she social standing.

Although the caste mechanism in India has actually been officially dismantled, that residual existence in Indian culture is deeply embedded. In landscape areas, elements of the heritage are much more likely come remain, while metropolitan centres present less proof of this past. In India’s bigger cities, civilization now have an ext opportunities to pick their own career paths and also marriage partners. Together a worldwide centre the employment, corporations have actually introduced merit-based hiring and employment come the nation.

The class System

A class system is based on both social factors and individual achievement. The is at least a partially open up system. A class consists that a set of civilization who have the same relationship to the means of production or productive property, that is, come the things used to produce the goods and services needed for survival: tools, technologies, resources, land, workplaces, etc. In karl Marx’s analysis, course systems kind around the institution of exclusive property, dividing those who own or regulate productive building from those who do not, who survive top top the communication of their labour.

Social class has both a strictly material top quality relating come these meanings of individuals’ positions in ~ a given financial system, and also a social quality relating come the development of common class interests, political divisions in society, website of conflict and also compromise, life styles and consumption patterns, and what Max Weber called different “life chances” (1969). We will return to the differences in between Marx’s and Weber’s meanings of course later in this chapter. Whether defined by product or social qualities however, the main social result of the class structure is inequality in society.

Marx suggested that class systems source in at an early stage Neolithic horticultural societies when horticultural technologies raised yields to economic surpluses. The very first class divisions occurred between those who owned and controlled the agricultural land and also surplus production and those that were dispossessed of ownership and also control (i.e., the farming labourers). Before the Neolithic duration 8,000 to 10,000 year ago, there were no classes. Societies were egalitarian and also were defined by equality that condition. For tens of countless years, hunter-gatherer cultures shared abundant property and resources collectively and did not develop economic surpluses. They might not type class societies.

In capitalism, the principle class division is in between the capitalist class who live indigenous the proceeds that owning or regulating productive building (capital assets prefer factories and also machinery, or capital itself in the kind of investments, stocks, and also bonds) and the working class who live from selling their work to the capitalists for a wage. Marx described these classes as the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, respectively. In addition, he explained the classes of the petite bourgeoisie (the little bourgeosie) and also the lumpenproletariat (the sub-proletariat). The petite bourgeoisie are those prefer shopkeepers, farmers, and also contractors who very own some property and also perhaps rental a few workers however still count on your own work to survive. The lumpenproletariat are the chronically unemployment or irregularly employed who are in and also out of the workforce. They space what Marx described as the “reserve military of labour,” a swimming pool of potential labourers who space surplus to the demands of production at any details time.

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In a class system, society inequality is structural, an interpretation that the is “built in” come the company of the economy. The relationship to the means of manufacturing (i.e., ownership/non-ownership) specifies a persistent, objective pattern of social relationships that exists, in a sense, before or external of individuals’ an individual or spontaneous choices and also motives. In Marx’s analysis, this was additionally the basis of class conflict, due to the fact that objectively (i.e., past individuals’ an individual perceptions or beliefs) the class positions space contradictory. The visibility of the bourgeoisie is identified by the economic drive to accumulate capital and also increase profit. The key means to attain this in a compete marketplace is by reduce the cost of production by lowering the expense of labour (by reducing wages, moving production to reduced wage areas, or instead of workers v labour-saving technologies). This contradicts the understand of the proletariat who look for to develop a sustainable traditional of living by maintaining the level of their wages and also the level of employment in society.