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45 terms

Sociology Ch. 8: Social Class in the United States

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Social Class
Large group of people who rank closely to one another in property, power, and prestige
Property
Buildings, lands, animals, machinery, cars, stocks, bonds, businesses, furniture, jewelry, and bank accounts
Wealth
The added up value of someone's property and subtract the person's debts; a person's net worth
Income
A flow of money
Power
The ability to get your way despite resistance
Power Elite
Refer to those who make the big decision in U.S. society
Prestige
Respect or regard
Some jobs have been given higher prestige by people
1. They pay more 2. They require more education 3. They entail more abstract thought 4. They offer greater autonomy (independence, or self-direction); EX: physician has highest prestige and street sweeper has the lowest prestige
Status Consistent
Similar rank on all three dimensions of social class
Status Inconsistency
A mixture of high and low ranks
Status
Position in a social group; Lenski analyzed that those who rank high in one dimension but lower on others want people to judge them on the basis of their highest status
Sociological Models of Social Class
Marx and Weber's models; Marx: 1. Capitalists 2. Workers 3. Inconsequential others
Erik Wright's modification of Marx's model of the social classes
1. Capitalists 2. Petty bourgeoisie 3. Managers 4. Workers
Capitalists
Business owners who employ many workers
Petty Bourgeoisie
Small business owners
Managers
Sell their own labor but also exercise authority over other employees
Workers
Sell their labor to others
The Capitalist Class
This tiny 1% is worth more than the entire bottom 90% of the country
The U.S. Social Class ladder
Kahl and Gilbert; 1. Capitalist- Prestigious university, investors and heirs, $1 mil+, 1% of pop. 2. Upper Middle-College or university, often with postgraduate study, professionals and upper managers, $125k+, 15% of pop. 3. Lower Middle-High school or college, often apprenticeship, semiprofessionals and lower managers, craftspeople, foremen, $60k, 34% of pop. 4. Working-High school, factory workers, clerical workers, low-paid retail sales, and craftspeople, $36k, 30% of pop. 5. Working Poor-Some high school, laborers, service workers, low-paid salespeople, $19k, 16% of pop. 6. Underclass-Some high school, unemployed and part-time, on welfare, under $12k, 4% of pop.
Consequences of Social Class
1. Physical Health 2. Mental Health 3. Family Life 4. Education 5. Religion 6. Politics 7. Crime and Criminal Justice
Physical Health
As you go up the social-class ladder, health increases
Mental Health
As you go up the social class ladder, stress is less and it doesn't have a good effect on mental health
Family Life
Social class affects choice of spouse, chances of getting divorced, and how we rear our children
Education
Education increases as one goes up the social class ladder
Religion
Lower classes are attracted to more expressive worship services and louder music, while middle and upper classes prefer more "subdued" worship
Politics
People toward the bottom of the class structure are also less likely to be politically active-campaign for candidates or even to vote; Higher statuses are republicans and lower statuses are democrats
Crime and Criminal Justice
Lower classes are more involved in street crimes
Three Types of Social Mobility
1. Intergeneration Mobility 2. Upward Social Mobility 3. Downward Social mobility
Intergeneration Mobility
When grown children end up on a different rung of social class ladders than the one occupied by their parents
Upward social mobility
Going up on the social ladder
Downward social mobility
Going down on the social ladder
Structural Mobility
Refers to changes in society that allow large numbers of people to move up or down the class ladder
Exchange Mobility
Large numbers of people move up and down the social class ladder, but on balance, the proportions of the social classes remain about the same
Poverty Line
Determines who is poor or not; those thought to spend about 1/3 of income on food
Who Are the Poor?
Those in the southern states are the poorest in America; rural poverty is higher than national poverty
Race-Ethnicity
25% of African Americans and Native Americans are poor, but 41% of the poor are white because there are more of these types of people
Education
1 out of every 4 people who drop out of high school is poor, but only 3 out of 100 people who finish college end up in poverty
Feminization of Poverty
Women average only 72% of what men earn; high divorce rates cause single mother homes
Old Age
The elderly are less likely than the general population to be poor
Culture of Poverty
The values and behaviors of the poor "make them fundamentally different than other Americans, and that these factors are largely responsible for their continued long-term poverty"
Children of Poverty
Children are more likely to live in poverty than are adults or the elderly
Why Are People Poor?
1. Social Structure: Denying some people access to education or the learning of job skills 2. Characteristics of individuals are assumed to contribute to poverty: laziness, lack of intelligence
Welfare Reform
The government would transform welfare recipients into self-supporting and hard-working citizens--and reduce welfare costs; Welfare system was reconstructed because some were on welfare too long or weren't looking for jobs
Horatio Alger Myth
One of the country's most popular authors in the 1800's; Wrote rags-to-riches stories that Americans can relate to; Encourages people to compete for higher positions, or reach for the highest star
What are the dynamics of poverty?
12% of poverty lasts longer than 5 years; 5% lasts up to 4 years; 8% lasts up to 3 years; 17% lasts up to 2 years; 59% lasts one year or less