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Durkheim's term for a condition of society in which people become detached from the norms that usually guide their behavior

contradictory class location

Erik Wright's term for a position in the class structure that generates contradictory interests

culture of poverty

assumption that values and behaviors of the poor are fundamentally different from other people, that these factors are largely responsible for their poverty, and parents perpetuate across generations by passing these characteristics to their children

deferred gratification

forgoing something in the present in the hope of achieving greater gains in the future

exchange mobility

about the same numbers of people moving up and down the social class ladder, such that, on balance, the social class system shows little change

feminization of poverty

trend in US poverty where most poor families are headed by women

Horatio Alger myth

the belief that due to limitless possibilities anyone can get ahead if he or she tries hard enough


money received from a job, business, or assets

intergenerational mobility

the change that family members make in social class from one generation to the next

poverty line

the official measure of poverty; calculated to include those whose incomes are less than three times a low-cost food budget


the ability to get your way despite the desires of other people

power elite

C. Wright Mills' term for the top people in US corporations, military, and politics who make the nation's major decisions

social class

according to Weber, a large group of people who rank close to one another in wealth, power and prestige; according to Marx, one of two groups: capitalists who own the means of production or workers who sell their labor


social ranking

status consistency

ranking high or low on all three dimensions of social class

status inconsistency (or status discrepancy)

ranking high on some dimensions of social class and low on others

structural mobility

movement up or down the social class ladder that is attributable to changes in the structure of society, not to individual efforts


a group of people for whom poverty persists year after year and across generations

upward social mobility

movement up the social class ladder


property and income

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