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

Learning Objectives

9.1. What Is social Inequality?

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

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9.2. Social Inequality and also Mobility in Canada

Define the difference in between relative and absolute poverty.Describe the existing trend of raising inequalities the wealth and also income in Canada.Distinguish the the differences in between Marx’s and Weber’s meanings of social class and also explain why they space significant.Characterize the social problems of the owning class, the middle class, and also the classic working class in Canada.Apply the research on social mobility to the question of even if it is Canada is a meritocracy.Recognize cultural markers that are used to display course identity.

9.3. Worldwide Stratification and also Inequality

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

9.4. Theoretical Perspectives on society Inequality

Understand and also apply functionalist, vital sociological and interpretive perspectives on social inequality.

Introduction to society Inequality in Canada

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

When he died in 2008, Ted Rogers Jr., climate CEO of Rogers Communications, was the fifth-wealthiest individual in Canada, holding assets worth $5.7 billion. In his autobiography (2008) he attributed his success come a willingness to take it risks, job-related hard, bend the rules, be on the continuous look-out for opportunities, and also be specialized to structure the business. In countless respects, he experienced himself as a self-made billionaire who began from scratch, seized opportunities, and created a company through his own initiative.

The story of Ted Rogers is not precisely a rags to riches one, however. His grandfather, Albert Rogers, to be a manager of royal Oil (Esso) and also his father, Ted Sr., came to be wealthy as soon as he invented an alternate current vacuum tube for radios in 1925. Ted Rogers Sr. Go from this invention to production radios, owning a radio station, and also acquiring a licence because that TV broadcasting.

However, Ted Sr. Died when Ted Jr. Was 5 years old, and the family businesses to be sold. His mommy took Ted Jr. aside when he to be eight and told him, “Ted, your organization is to get the family members name back” (Rogers, 2008). The family members was still wealthy sufficient to send the to top Canada College, the famous private institution that additionally educated the children from the Black, Eaton, Thompson, and Weston families. Ted seized the possibility at upper Canada to make money together a bookie, taking bets on steed racing indigenous the various other students. Climate he to visit Osgoode Hall law School, where apparently his secretary saw classes and also took notes because that 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 moment of his death, Rogers communications was precious $25 billion. At the time just three families, the Rogers, Shaws, and Péladeaus, owned much of the cable company in Canada.

At the other finish of the spectrum room the indigenous gang members in the Saskatchewan Correctional Centre that we disputed in thing 1 (CBC, 2010). The CBC program detailed that 85 percent the the inmates in the jail were of aboriginal descent, fifty percent of whom were involved in indigenous gangs. Moreover the statistics profile of indigenous youth in Saskatchewan is grim, with aboriginal people consisting of the highest number of high college dropouts, domestic abuse victims, drug dependencies, and also child poor backgrounds. In some respects the aboriginal gang members interviewed were choose Ted Rogers in the they to be willing to seize opportunities, take risks, bend rules, and also apply themselves to your vocations. They as well aspired to getting the money the would give them the flexibility to do their own lives. However, as one of the inmates placed it, “the just job I ever had was marketing drugs” (CBC, 2010). The an effect of that was to autumn into a way of life that resulted in joining a gang, gift kicked the end of school, emerging issues v addiction, and also eventually obtaining arrested and also incarcerated. Uneven Ted Rogers, however, the inmate added, “I didn’t grow up v the finest life” (CBC, 2010).

How do we make feeling of the divergent stories? Canada is claimed to it is in a nation in i m sorry individuals have the right to work tough to gain ahead. It is one “open” society. There space no official or clearly class, gender, racial, ethnic, geographical, or other borders that prevent civilization from rising to the top. World are complimentary to make choices. But does this adequately define the distinction in life opportunities that divide the fortunes the the indigenous youth from those of the Rogers family? What determines a person’s society standing? and also how does society standing direct or border a who choices?

The French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002) characterized ones habitus as the deeply sit schemas, habits, feelings, dispositions, and forms of know-how that people hold because of their certain social backgrounds, cultures, and life experiences (1990). Bourdieu described it together ones “feel for the game,” to use a sporting activities metaphor. Choices are perhaps always “free” in part formal sense, yet they are likewise always positioned within one’s habitus. The aboriginal gang members display screen a certain amount that street smarts that permit them to survive and successfully navigate their world. Street smarts define their habitus and also exercise a profound influence over the variety of alternatives that are available for castle to think about — the communities they recognize to avoid, the human body languages the signal danger, the values of illicit goods, the motives of various street actors, the routines that police interactions, etc. The habitus affect both the choices to conform come the team they recognize with or deviate from it. Ted Rogers populated a different habitus which created a basically different collection of alternatives for that in his life path. Just how are the various lifeworlds or habitus distributed in culture so that some reinforce patterns of deprivation while others carry out the basis for access to wealth and power?

As Bourdieu spicy out, habitus is so deeply ingrained that us take its reality as natural rather than as a product of social circumstances. This has the unfortunate result of justifying society inequalites based the belief that the Ted Rogers that the people were naturally gifted and also predisposed for success as soon as in truth it is success itself the is “predisposed” by underlying structures of power and privilege.

9.1. What Is society Inequality?

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

Sociologists use the term social inequality to define the unequal circulation of valued resources, rewards, and also positions in a society. An essential to the principle is the id of social differentiation. Social characteristics — differences, identities, and also roles — are supplied to distinguish people and also divide them into various categories, which have actually implications for social inequality. Society differentiation by chin does no necessarily suggest a division of people into a hierarchy of rank, privilege, and also power. However, once a social classification like class, occupation, gender, or race puts people in a place in which lock can claim a higher share of resources or services, then social differentiation i do not care the basis of society inequality.

The term social stratification refers to an institutionalized system of social inequality. It describes a instance in which the divisions and relationships of society inequality have actually solidified right into a device that determines that gets what, when, and why. You might remember the word “stratification” from geology class. The distinctive horizontal layers discovered in rock, called “strata,” are a good way come visualize society structure. Society’s layers space made that people, and society’s sources are spread unevenly throughout the layers. The world who have an ext resources stand for the peak layer the the social structure of stratification. Other teams of people, with significantly fewer and fewer resources, stand for the lower layers of ours society. Society stratification assigns people to socioeconomic strata based on factors like wealth, income, race, education, and also power. The question for sociologists is exactly how systems of stratification pertained to be formed. What is the basis of systematic social inequality in society?

Figure 9.4. Strata in rock illustrate 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 physics abilities. (Photo courtesy of simply a Prairie Boy/Flickr)

In Canada, the leading ideological presumption around social inequality is that everyone has actually an equal opportunity at success. This is the id in equality the opportunity, which deserve to be contrasted with the ide of equality that condition. Equality of condition is the instance in which everyone in a culture has a comparable level the wealth, status, and power. Although levels of equality of problem vary markedly in modern-day societies, that is clear that also the most egalitarian societies today have significant degrees of inequality of condition. Equality the opportunity, on the various other hand, is the idea the everyone has an equal possibility of becoming successful. It exist when civilization have the same opportunity to pursue financial or society rewards. This is frequently seen as a role of equal access to education, meritocracy (where separation, personal, instance merit determines social standing), and formal or informal steps to eliminate social discrimination. Ultimately, equality of opportunity method that inequalities of condition are not so great that they greatly hamper a who life chances. Whether Canada is a society characterized through equality of opportunity or no is a topic of considerable sociological debate.

To a particular extent, Ted Rogers’ story illustrates the id in equality that opportunity. His personal narrative is one in which hard work and also talent — not innate privilege, birthright, prejudicial treatment, or societal worths — established his social rank. This focus on self-effort is based on the id that human being individually manage their very own social standing, which is a an essential piece in the idea of equality the opportunity. Many people attach inequalities that wealth, status, and power come the individual features of those that succeed or fail. The story of the indigenous gang members, although that is additionally a story of personal choices, casts that belief into doubt. It is clear the the form of choices accessible to the aboriginal gang members are of a different selection and top quality than those obtainable to the Rogers family. The available choices space a product that habitus.

Sociologists acknowledge that society stratification is a society-wide device that makes inequalities apparent. While 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 accessibility to rewards and status. In other words, sociologists are interested in assessing the structural conditions of social inequality. There are of course differences in individuals’ abilities and talents that will influence their life chances. The bigger question, however, is how inequality becomes systematically structured in economic, social, and political life. In terms of individual ability: that gets the avenues to construct their abilities and talents, and who does not? where does “ability” or “talent” come from? as we live in a society that emphasizes the separation, personal, instance — i.e., separation, personal, instance effort, individual morality, separation, personal, instance choice, individual responsibility, separation, personal, instance talent, etc. — it is often difficult to view the way in i m sorry life possibilities are socially structured.

Figure 9.5. The human being who live in these homes most most likely share comparable levels the income and education. Neighbourhoods frequently house people of the same social standing. Wealthy families do not commonly live following door to poorer families, despite this varies depending on the details city and also country. (Photo courtesy of Orin Zebest/Flickr)

Factors that specify stratification differ in different societies. In most modern societies, stratification is frequently indicated by differences in wealth, the net value of money and assets a human being has, and also  income, a person’s wages, salary, or investment dividends. That can additionally be identified by differences in power (how many world a human must take it orders from versus exactly how many world a person can provide orders to) and status (the level of honour or call one has actually in the eye of others). These four factors develop a facility amalgam that defines individuals’ society standing in ~ a hierarchy.

Usually the four components coincide, together in the situation of corporate CEOs, prefer Ted Rogers, at the optimal of the hierarchy—wealthy, powerful, and also prestigious — and the aboriginal offenders in ~ the bottom — poor, powerless, and abject. Sociologists usage the term status consistency to explain the consistency of an individual’s rank across these factors. However, us can additionally think that someone favor the Canadian prime minister that ranks high in power, yet with a salary of around $320,000 earns much much less than comparable executives in the personal sector (albeit eight time the mean Canadian salary). The prime minister’s status or prestige likewise rises and falls v the vagaries of politics. The Nam-Boyd range of standing ranks political leaders at 66/100, the same status as cable TV technicians (Boyd, 2008). There is standing inconsistency in the prime minister’s position. Similarly, teachers regularly have high levels of education, which offer them high status (92/100 according to the Nam-Boyd scale), however they receive reasonably low pay. Many think that teaching is a noble profession, for this reason teachers should do their tasks for love of your profession and also the an excellent of their students, no for money. Yet no effective executive or entrepreneur would embrace that attitude in the company world, where earnings are valued as a driving force. Cultural attitudes and beliefs like these support and also perpetuate social inequalities.

Systems the Stratification

Sociologists distinguish in between two varieties of systems of stratification. Closed equipment accommodate little change in social position. They do not allow people to shift levels and also do not permit society relations between levels. Open up systems, i m sorry are based upon achievement, allow movement and also interaction between layers and classes. Different systems reflect, emphasize, and foster certain cultural values, and shape individual beliefs. This distinction in stratification systems have the right to be examined by the comparison between class systems and also caste systems.

The Caste System
Figure 9.6. India supplied to have a rigid caste system. The civilization in the lowest caste experienced from extreme poverty and were shunned by society. Some aspects of India’s defunct caste system remain socially relevant. The Indian mrs in this photograph is of a specific Hindu caste. (Photo courtesy that Elessar/Flickr)

Caste systems room closed stratification systems in which people can do small or nothing to change their society standing. A caste system is one in which people are born right into their social standing and remain in the their whole lives. The is based upon fixed or strictly status distinctions, fairly than financial classes per se. As we noted above, standing is identified by the level of honour or call one receive by virtue of membership in a group. Sociologists do a distinction between ascribed standing — a status one obtain by virtue of being born right into a classification or group (e.g., hereditary position, gender, race, etc.) —and achieved status — a standing one receives with individual initiative or merits (e.g., occupation, education level, ethical character, etc.). Caste systems are based on a pecking order of ascribed statuses, based on being born into fixed caste groups.

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

The feudal solution of Europe and Japan deserve to in some ways be viewed as caste solution in that the statuses of positions in the social stratifications systems were fixed, and there was small or no possibility for motion through marital relationship or economic opportunities. In Europe, the legacy system separated the population into priest (first estate), nobility (second estate), and commoners (third estate), which had artisans, merchants, and peasants. In early on European feudalism, it was still possible for a peasant or a warrior to accomplish a high place in the priest or nobility, yet later the departments became more rigid. In Japan, in between 1603 and 1867, the mibunsei mechanism divided society into five rigid strata in which society standing was inherited. At the height was the emperor, climate court noble (kuge), armed forces 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 vendors were thought about the lowest class because they go not create anything with their very own hands. Over there was additionally an outcast or untouchable caste recognized as the burakumin, that were taken into consideration impure or defiled since of your association through death: executioners, undertakers, slaughterhouse workers, tanners, and butchers (Kerbo, 2006).

However, the caste device is probably finest typified through the mechanism of stratification the existed in India indigenous 4,000 years earlier until the 20th century. In the Hindu caste tradition, world were also expected to job-related in the occupation of your caste and to go into into marriage according to your caste. Originally there were four castes: Brahmans (priests), Kshatriyas (military), Vaisyas (merchants), and Sudras (artisans, farmers). In addition there to be the Dalits or Harijans (“untouchables”). Hindu bible said, “In stimulate to preserve the universe, Brahma (the Supreme) led to the Brahmin to proceed from his mouth, the Kshatriya to continue from his arm, the Vaishya to proceed from his thigh, and the Shudra to proceed from his foot” (Kashmeri, 1990). Accepting this social standing was thought about a ethical duty. Cultural values and also economic restrictions reinforced the system. Caste solution promote ideas in fate, destiny, and also the will certainly of a greater power, rather than cultivating individual liberty as a value. A human who resided in a caste society was socialized to expropriate his or she social standing.

Although the caste mechanism in India has been official dismantled, its residual presence in Indian society is deeply embedded. In landscape areas, aspects of the heritage are much more likely come remain, while urban centres show less proof of this past. In India’s larger cities, world now have much more opportunities to select their very own career paths and marriage partners. Together a worldwide centre that employment, corporations have introduced merit-based hiring and employment to the nation.

The course System

A class system is based on both social factors and also individual achievement. That is at the very least a partially open system. A class consists the a set of civilization who have actually the same connection to the means that production or abundant property, the is, to the things provided to develop the goods and also services essential for survival: tools, technologies, resources, land, workplaces, etc. In knife Marx’s analysis, course systems type around the college of exclusive property, dividing those who own or manage productive building from those who perform not, who survive top top the communication of their labour.

Social course has both a strict material quality relating to these interpretations of individuals’ positions in ~ a given economic system, and a social quality relating come the development of common class interests, political divisions in society, web page of conflict and also compromise, life styles and consumption patterns, and what Max Weber called various “life chances” (1969). Us will go back to the differences between Marx’s and Weber’s interpretations of class later in this chapter. Whether identified by product or social characteristics however, the key social result of the course structure is inequality in society.

Marx suggested that class systems source in at an early stage Neolithic horticultural societies once horticultural technologies enhanced yields to financial surpluses. The very first class divisions developed between those who owned and controlled the agricultural land and surplus production and also those that were dispossessed the ownership and control (i.e., the agricultural labourers). Prior to the Neolithic duration 8,000 come 10,000 years ago, there to be no classes. Societies were egalitarian and also were characterized by equality of condition. For tens of countless years, hunter-gatherer cultures shared fertile property and also resources collectively and did not create economic surpluses. They can not kind class societies.

In capitalism, the rule class division is in between the capitalist class who live from the proceeds the owning or regulating productive residential or commercial property (capital assets prefer factories and machinery, or resources itself in the kind of investments, stocks, and also bonds) and the working course who live from marketing their work to the capitalists because that a wage. Marx described these classes together the bourgeoisie and also the proletariat, respectively. In addition, he defined the class of the petite bourgeoisie (the little bourgeosie) and also the lumpenproletariat (the sub-proletariat). The petite bourgeoisie room those like shopkeepers, farmers, and also contractors who own some property and also perhaps employ a few workers however still depend on their own labour to survive. The lumpenproletariat are the chronically unemployment or irregularly employed who room in and out that the workforce. They room what Marx referred to as the “reserve military of labour,” a pool of potential labourers who are surplus come the needs of production at any specific time.

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In a course system, social inequality is structural, an interpretation that it is “built in” to the company of the economy. The relationship to the way of manufacturing (i.e., ownership/non-ownership) specifies a persistent, objective pattern of social relationships that exists, in a sense, before or exterior of individuals’ an individual or voluntary choices and also motives. In Marx’s analysis, this was likewise the basis of class conflict, because objectively (i.e., past individuals’ personal perceptions or beliefs) the course positions space contradictory. The visibility of the bourgeoisie is characterized by the financial drive to accumulate capital and increase profit. The crucial means to achieve this in a vain marketplace is by to reduce the cost of manufacturing by lowering the price of labour (by reducing wages, moving production to lower wage areas, or instead of workers v labour-saving technologies). This contradicts the interests of the proletariat who seek to develop a sustainable conventional of life by maintaining the level of your wages and also the level of employed in society.