Sociology Ch. 8 What is social class?

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What is social class?
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According to Weber, a large group of people who rank close to one another in property, power, and prestige; according to Marx, one of two groups: capitalists who own the means of production or workers who sell their labor.
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Property
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material possessions: animals, bank accounts, bonds, buildings, businesses, cars, cash, commodities, copyrights, furniture, jewelry, land, and stocks
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Wealth
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the total value of everything someone owns, minus the debts
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Income
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Money received, usually from a job, business, or assets.
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Democratic Facade
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Conceals the real source of power in the United States.
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Power
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The ability to carry out your will, even over the resistance of others
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Power Elite
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C. Wright Mills’ term for the top people in U.S. corporations, military, and politics who make the nation’s major decisions.
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Prestige
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Respect or Regard
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Status Consistency
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Ranking high or low on all three dimensions of social class
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Status Inconsistency
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Ranking high on some dimensions of social class and low on others; also called status discrepancy. Lenski found that people who are status inconsistent tend to be more politically radical.
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Status
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The position that someone occupies in a social group
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Anomie
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Durkheim’s term for a condition of society in which people become detached from the usual norms that guide their behavior. EX: winning the lottery and having sudden wealth!
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Marx’s Model of the Social Classes
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1) Capitalists: Bourgeoisie, those who own the means of production. 2) Workers: Proletariat, those who work for the capitalists. 3) Inconsequential Others: beggars, etc.
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Wright’s Modification of Marx’s Model of the Social Classes
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1. Capitalists 2. Petty bourgeoisie 3. Managers 4. Workers
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Contradictory class locations
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Erik Wright’s term for a position in the class structure that generates contradictory interests.
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The U.S. Social Class Ladder
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Mental Health
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People higher up the social class ladder experience stress in daily life, of course, but their stress is generally less, and their coping resources are greater. Not only can they afford vacations, psychiatrists, and counselors, but their class position also gives them greater control over their lives, a key to good mental health.
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Family Life: Marriage
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Members of the capitalist class place strong emphasis on family tradition. They stress the family’s history, even a sense of purpose or destiny in life.
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Family Life: Divorce
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The more difficult life of the lower social classes, especially the many tensions that come from insecure jobs and inadequate incomes, leads to higher marital friction and a greater likelihood of divorce.
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Family Life: Child Rearing
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Lower-class parents focus more on getting their children to follow rules and obey authority, while middle-class parents focus more on developing their children’s creative and leadership skills.
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Education
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Education increases as one goes up the social class ladder. It is not just the amount of education that changes but also the type of education. Children of the capitalist class bypass public schools.
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Religion
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The classes tend to cluster in different denominations. Episcopalians, for example, are more likely to attract the middle and upper classes, while Baptists draw heavily from the lower classes. Patterns of worship also follow class lines: The lower classes are attracted to more expressive worship services and louder music, while the middle and upper classes prefer more \”subdued\” worship.
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Politics
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The higher that people are on the social class ladder, the more likely they are to vote for Republicans. In contrast, most members of the working class believe that the government should intervene in the economy to provide jobs and to make citizens financially secure.
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Crime and Criminal Justice
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The white-collar crimes of the more privileged classes are more likely to be dealt with outside of the criminal justice system, while the police and courts deal with the street crimes of the lower classes.
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Underclass
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A group of people for whom poverty persists year after year and across generations.
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Intergenerational Mobility
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the change that family members make in social class from one generation to the next.
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Upward Social Mobility
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Movement up the social class ladder.
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Downward Social Mobility
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Movement down the social class ladder
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Structural Mobility
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Movement up or down the social class ladder that is due more to changes in the structure of society than to the actions of individuals.
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Exchange Mobility
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A large number of people moving up the social class ladder, while a large number move down; it is as though they have exchanged places, and the social class system shows little change.
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Women in Studies of Social Mobility
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In their study of women from working-class backgrounds who became managers and profesionals, sociologists Elizabeth Higginbotham and Lynn Weber found this recurring theme: parents encouraging their girls to postpone marriage and get an education. To these understandings from the micro approach, we need to add the macro level. Had there not been a structural change in society, the millions of new positions that women occupy would not exist.
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The Pain of Social Mobility
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Torn from their roots, some of those who make the jump from the working to the middle class never become comfortable with their new social class.
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Poverty Line
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The official measure of poverty; calculated to include incomes that are less than three times a low-cost food budget. Grossly inadequate. Poor people actually spend only about 20%of their income on food, so to determine a poverty line, we ought to multiply their food budget by 5 instead of 3. The poverty line is also the same for everyone across the nation, even though the cost of living is much higher in New York than in Alabama. On the other hand, much of the income of the poor is not counted: food stamps, rent assistance, subsidized child care, and the earned income tax credit.
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The Geography of Poverty
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Poverty varies by region. The striking clustering of poverty in the South is a pattern that has prevailed for more than 150 years. Most of the nation’s poor now live in the suburbs.
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Race-Ethnicity
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11 percent of whites are poor, followed closely by Asian Americans at 13 percent. 27% of Latinos and African Americans live in poverty. For Native Americans, it is 28%. Because whites are, by far, the largest group in the U.S., their lower rate of poverty translates into larger numbers. As a result, there are many more poor whites than poor people of any other racial-ethnic group.
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Poverty: Education
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1 of every 4 people who drop out of high school is poor, but only 3 of 100 people who finish college end up in poverty. The chances that someone will be poor become less with each higher level of education.
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Feminization of Poverty
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A condition of U.S. poverty in which most poor families are headed by women.
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Old Age
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The elderly are less likely than the general population to be poor. Social security and subsidized housing, food stamps, and medical care–slashed the rate of poverty among the elderly. The prevailing racial-ethnic patterns carry over into old age.
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Children of Poverty
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Children are more likely to live in poverty than are adults or the elderly.
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Culture of poverty
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the assumption that the values and behaviors of the poor make them fundamentally different from other people, that these factors are largely responsible for their poverty, and that parents perpetuate poverty across generations by passing these characteristics to their children.
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Deferred Gratification
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Going without something in the present in the hope of achieving greater gains in the future.
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Horatio Alger Myth
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The belief that due to limitless possibilities anyone can get ahead if he or she tries hard enough.

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