SOC220 Social Stratification Syllabus

University of Toronto, Fall 2016


About This Course

This course examines the social processes that generate and maintain material inequalities in human societies. We will examine a number of important questions throughout the semester. For example, how unevenly are income and wealth distributed in different societies? Why are some individuals paid a great deal, while others scrape by on very little? What are the social and political forces that influence how individuals are allocated to positions with starkly different compensation? What are the consequences of these material inequalities for a person’s happiness, health, and the well-being of their children? Can government policy do anything to change patterns of inequality? This course will cover basic concepts and facts as well as both classical and contemporary sociological theories of inequality. In addition, it engages and evaluates empirical studies dealing with social stratification, including continuity and change in income and wealth inequality; the contours of class structure in modern societies; intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic status; the effects of family, school, and neighborhood on socioeconomic attainment; gender and racial inequality; and the social consequences of inequality. Although much of the material will be comparative and pertain to modern industrial societies generally, the emphasis will be on Canada.