Social Inequality

Blake Steiert
Dr. Michael Thompson
Intro to Sociology
October 10, 2011

Global Stratification


I have read and studied Chapter 8 in the Sociology in Our Times textbook and wish to share what I’ve learned. Global Stratification refers to the unequal distribution of wealth, power, and prestige on a global basis, resulting in people having vastly different lifestyles and life chances both within and among the nations of the world. For example, the world is divided into unequal segments characterized by extreme differences in wealth and poverty. “The income gap between the richest and the poorest 20 percent of the world population continues to widen.” After World War 2, the terms “First World”, “Second World”, “Third World” was introduce by social analysts to distinguish among nations on the basis of their levels of economic development and the standard of living of their citizens. First World nations were said to consist of the rich, industrialized nations that primarily had capitalist economic systems and democratic political systems. The main countries noted as First World countries were USA, Canada, Japan, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. Second World countries were said to be countries with at least a moderate level of economic development and a moderate standard of living. The main countries listed for Second World countries are China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, and portions from the former USSR. Third world countries are the poorest countries, with little or no industrialization and the lowest standards of living, shortest life expectancies, and highest rates of mortality.
“Today, the World Bank focuses on three development themes: people, the environment, and the economy.” The Worlds economy is classified by levels of income. Low-Income Economies are where most people engage in agricultural pursuits, reside in nonurban areas, and are impoverished. About half of the world’s population lives in the forty nine low-income economies. Middle-Income Economies are divided by The World Bank by middle-income economies into lower-middle-income ($936-$3,705) and upper-middle-income ($3,705-$11,455). Middle-Income economies make up about one-third of the world’s population resides in the ninety-five nations. Modernization theory-a perspective that links global inequality to different levels of economic development and suggests that low-income economies can move to middle-and high income economies by achieving self-sustained economic growth. Dependency theory states that global poverty can at least partially be attributed to the fact that the low-income countries have been exploited by the high-income countries. Core nations are dominant capitalist centers characterized by high levels of industrialization and urbanization. Semi peripheral nations are more developed than peripheral nations but less developed than core nations. Peripheral nations are dependent on the core nations for capital, have little or no industrialization (other than what may be brought in by core nations), and have uneven patterns of urbanization. So in closing Global stratification refers to the unequal distribution of wealth, power, and prestige on a global basis which results in people having vastly different life-styles and life chances both within and among the nations of the world. “Today, the income gap between the richest and the poorest 20 percent of the world population continues to widen, and within some nations the poorest one-fifth of the population has an income that is only a slight fraction of the overall average per capita income for that country.” Therefore, this is what I have studied and learned from chapter 8 Global Stratification.
*Sociology IN OUR TIMES (The Essentials) by Diana Kendall

Class and Stratification
By Dane Olofson

Socioeconomic status is just a way of describing the stratification system of the United States. The class system, also imperfect in classifying all Americans, nonetheless offers a general understanding of American social stratification. The United States has roughly six social classes:
1. Upper class
2. New money
3. Middle class
4. Working class
5. Working poor
6. Poverty level
The Upper Class or Old Money
The upper class which makes up about one percent of the U.S. population generally consists of those with vast inherited wealth (sometimes called “old money”). Members of the upper class may also have a recognizable family name, such as Rockefeller, DuPont, or Kennedy. Some members of the upper class work, but their salaries are not their primary sources of income. Most members of these strata have attended college, most likely at some of the most prestigious educational institutions in the country.
New Money
The category called new money is a relatively new rung on the social ladder and makes up about 15 percent of the population. New money includes people whose wealth has been around only for a generation or two. Also referred to as the nouveaux riches (French for “newly rich”), they have earned their money rather than inheriting it. Unlike the members of the upper class, they do not have a family associated with old money. The nouveaux riches merit their own category because they make so much money that they lead very different lives from those in subsequent SES groupings. The newly rich simply do not have the day-to-day financial concerns that often plague the rest of society.
The Middle Class
The next rung on the ladder is the middle class, which includes about 34 percent of the population. The members of the middle class earn their money by working at what could be called professional jobs. They probably have college educations, or at least have attended college. These people are managers, doctors, lawyers, professors, and teachers. They rarely wear uniforms, although some might wear distinctive clothing, such as a physician’s white coat. They are often referred to as the white-collar class, referring to the tendency of many middle-class men to wear suits with a white shirt to work.
The Working Class
The working class makes up about 30 percent of the population. Its members may have gone to college, but more have had vocational or technical training. The members of the working class have a variety of jobs, including the following:
• Electrician
• Carpenter
• Factory worker
• Truck driver
• Police officer
This category is also called the blue-collar class in recognition of the likelihood that many of these individuals wear uniforms to work rather than suits. People in the working class are more likely to be members of unions than are people in the middle class. While there are differences between the working class and the middle class in terms of their values, behaviors, and even their voting records, their standards of living are often similar, but not identical.
The Working Poor
Another new rung on the socioeconomic ladder is the working poor. Estimating how many Americans are in this category is difficult because the line separating them from those who are at or below the poverty level is not solid. Estimates say that approximately 20 percent of the population could be classified in either the working-poor or poverty-level categories. People in the working-poor category have a low educational level, are not highly skilled, and work at minimum-wage jobs. They often work two or more part-time jobs and receive no health insurance or other benefits. These individuals are vulnerable to falling below the poverty line. They have very little or no job security and their jobs are easily outsourced to countries where labor is cheaper. Every economy needs a group of workers that it can hire during an economic upswing and lay off when the economy weakens.
The Poverty Level
People at the poverty level lack the means to meet their basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. The poverty level, set by the federal government in the mid 1960s, is an estimate of the minimum income a family of four needs to survive. The poverty level is currently about $18,000 per year—a figure that has come under fire for being woefully inadequate, mainly because poor people, particularly those in urban areas with high costs of living, need more money to survive.

Social Stratification and Inequality. 3-4-11. Web Source.
Social Class in the United States. 3-4-1. Web Source.

Matt Edwards
Intro to Sociology
Social Inequality
Social inequality refers to the ways in which socially-defined categories of persons (according to characteristics such as gender, age, ‘class’ and ethnicity) are differentially positioned with regard to access to a variety of social ‘goods’, such as the labour market and other sources of income, the education and healthcare systems, and forms of political representation and participation. These and other forms of social inequality are shaped by a range of structural factors, such as geographical location or citizenship status, and are often underpinned by cultural discourses and identities defining, for example, whether the poor are ‘deserving’ or ‘undeserving’. Understanding the changing patterns, causes and consequences of social inequality in the post-Socialist countries of Eastern Europe, both within and outside of the borders of the European Union, is central to the CEELBAS agenda. This is because comparative evidence from Western Europe and elsewhere in the world suggests a strong link between social inequality and a variety of socio-economic and political ‘ills’. In the sphere of health, for example, high death rates and stress-related illnesses all appear to be closely correlated with high levels of income inequality, as does violent crime. With regard to democratic development, deepening inequalities within and between different groups in society are associated with low levels of social cohesion and participatory citizenship. In addition, social inequality can impede democratic consolidation by stimulating social conflict and political instability, and in turn may act as a support for the establishment of authoritarian regimes. For these reasons, if we are to understand the nature of the societies which are emerging in Eastern Europe, as well as the directions in which they are moving, it is essential that we understand the changing patterns of inequality experienced within those societies.
The Internal Revenue Service issued a report last week documenting record levels of social inequality in the United States. According to the data released by the IRS, America’s wealthiest 1 percent accounted for 21 percent of all income in 2005, while the bottom 50 percent earned just 12.8 percent of the total national income.
While the share of income taken in by the wealthiest 1 percent rose steeply—up three points from 19 percent in 2004—the share for the half of the population at the bottom of the economic ladder fell during the same period by 0.6 percent.
Summarizing the study, the Journal reported that “the highest-earning hedge-fund manager earned double in 2005 what the top earner made in 2003, and the top 25 hedge-fund managers earned more in 2004 than the chief executives of all the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index combined.” The study also found “profits per equity partner at the top 100 law firms doubling between 1994 and 2004, to over $1 million in 2004 dollars.”
The data released by the IRS indicated that the minimum annual income needed to make it into the top 1 percent rose 3 percent between 2000 and 2005 to $364,647.
On the opposite end of the social scale, the median income of tax filers had fallen 2 percent between 2000 and 2005 to just $30,881, with fully half of the population struggling to get by on less than that.
Earlier data released by the US Census Bureau established that every section of the population outside of the top 5 percent saw their real income fall between 2000 and 2005.
According to one recent study, while real income for the bottom 90 percent of the population fell by 11 percent between 1973 and 2005, those in the top .01 percent bracket, comprising some 14,000 households with annual incomes averaging nearly $13 million, saw their take increase by 250 percent over the same period.

Race and Ethnicity
By: Eric Blanton

Over the last century America has faced conflict with race and ethnicity. From the times of hardship between white Americans and African Americans to the conflicts we now face with boarder control. All for what reasons? People are often quick to jump to conclusions about race and ethnicity, but the real question is what makes any of us different from each other? It is a proven fact that all humans are 99.9% identical other than what labels and opinions we have for each other.

Ethnicity refers to selected cultural and sometimes physical characteristics used to classify people into groups or categories considered to be significantly different from others.


Ethnicity is what seperates and makes us all individual unique. From European Americans to African Americans and other ethnic groups in the United States we are all alike in some way. People tend to put certain stereotypes on different races and ethnic groups and often they are pretty imposing thoughts. A race is a biological subspecies or a variety of a species consisting of a more or less distinct population with anatomical traits that distinguish it clearly form other races. There are two differents groups of people, minorities and majorities. A minority is a group differing, especially in race, religion, or ethnic background, from the majority of a population while the majority is the greater number of people who often look down on the minorities for reasons such as race, religion, or ethnic background. America has had its battles with majorities and minorities in the passed and is currently still facing discriminating issues towards the minorities. Amongst the minorities, the worst to recieve punishment based just on the color of their skin are the African Americans. Throughout history and especially in the 1960's blacks have been discriminated and downgraded because they aren't white. This has changed significantly with time but some of it certainly exists today.

I think that if Americans don't change their opinions towards each other and ones race and ethnicity then we will be in a greater economic downfall or things could get just as bad as they were in the passed. People need to stop placing labels and opinions on other people just because they have a funny accent or different skin color then one's self before people start acting upon it.

Sex and Gender
Roy Palmer

What is the difference in sex and gender? That is a question that too many people cannot properly answer. The answer is pretty simple, sex is the biological and physical attributes that make us male or female. This answer may seem pretty simple and clear cut but there are a couple of gray areas within this definition. There are people who may have physical attributes of both males and females, these people are called hermaphrodites. A transsexual is someone whose physical organs are opposite of their gender identity. The final is a transvestite, this is a person who dresses, acts, and lives as a member of the opposite sex. The physical attributes are all related to the mother and father and the result of how a fetus develops.
Gender is a little more difficult to define, Gender is the social and cultural differences between males and females. Gender is begins being developed from birth. Boys are usually dressed in blue, and girls in pink. This continues throughout the time a child grows up, the toys that are purchased, the way adults interact with the child, and currently is being affected by the media. The media portrays men more predominantly than women, therefore instills the mentality that men are superior to women. When women are portrayed in the media they generally are portrayed as more of a sex icon with the unrealistic hourglass figure, and women are rarely given a superior role to men. This type of portrayal gives younger children a negative image about gender roles.
Certain parts of the media are changing from most of the typical views found today. The FOX television series GLEE is an example of this change. This show does not follow the typical pattern of male predominance, and sexual orientation. The students and instructors are almost an even number of males and females. This show addresses the typical roles of males and females. One of the female students is a wrestler, a couple of the students portrayed are homosexuals, the male instructor is more passive and holds more feminine characteristics than the competitive female instructor, who is more aggressive than a typical cheer-leading coach.
Gender Socialization is not just based off of what is watched on television. The child also learns from how their own family is structured. A child who lives with their parents and their mother is the primary breadwinner and their father is the stay at home parent will see how gender roles can vary and is more likely to have an open mind when it comes to their own development of those roles as compared to a child who grows up in a traditional setting.
A child's learning environment also effects the development of their gender identity. Teachers are more often giving males more attention than they do females, as well they sometimes will divide the class based on gender thus instilling a natural competitiveness between males and females.
Overall the natural evolution has been that males are superior to females. The media, while it reinforces this view, is also trying to give women a more equal role than they have had in the past. A child will develop their own gender identity based upon the environment that they are raised in, as well as what they see as a normal environment on television, and how they are treated in school and other social settings.

Sociology in our times, 7th edition, Kendall

Sex and Gender
Brad Dible

Many people including my self use the terms sex and gender interchangeably. I have seen applications and surveys use either one and didn’t think anything of it. The two terms actually are very different and need to be understood before sex and gender can be applied in sociology.

When dealing with males and females sex is defined as the biological and anatomical differences between females and males. When a child is conceived the mother contributes and X chromosome and the father contributes either an X or Y chromosome if X a female is Y a male. At birth male and female infants are distinguished by primary sex characteristics which are reproductive genitalia. Later in life puberty increases production of hormones resulting in the development of secondary sex characteristics. Secondary sex characteristics are physical traits including wider hips, larger breasts, and menstruation in women. In men a deeper voice, more muscular build and more body and facial hair.

Gender refers to the culturally and socially constructed differences between females and males found in the meaning, beliefs and practices associated with “femininity” and “masculinity”. While sex refers to physical traits gender is what is expected from each sex. Examples would be boys being aggressive and “tough”, while girls are expected to be caring and “fragile”


Through life people are socialized to fit there sex. At a young age boys are given toy guns, soldiers, sports equipment and tools. Young girls are given dolls, dresses, and play baking tools.
As children get older the way they interact with there peers enforces traditional gender ideas. Girls that play sports and get dirty are scrutinized and don’t fit in. While boys that are not athletic or aggressive are not accepted are considered “gay”. Gender roles are enforced in the mass media TV and movies having a large impact on what is expected and what is cool.


These gender roles continue through life as certain professions are encouraged or discouraged. For many years and even today men are expected to provide for the family and women are expected to stay at home and raise the family. When women do get jobs it is “normal” for it to be a lower paying job that does not require much manual labor and enforces the feminine ideas of caring or providing assistance jobs like teachers, nurse, Liberian, and secretary. While men are expected to the opposite construction, lawyer, soldier, and fireman. Some cross the expected norms but face discrimination and put extra effort outside of the job to fit in. A male nurse trying to be more manly and a female soldier dressing up while off duty.

As societies have grown men have gained more control and masculine features have been praised and were considered more important while feminine features have been considered weak. The gap between male and female grew as women were left as homemakers and men were considered breadwinners. This gap has become less severe in the U.S. while still being quite large in other countries. In the U.S. men still get paid more for the same amount of work and find it easier to advance.

Sociology in our times, 7th edition, Kendall

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