Chapter 7 Study Questions & Exercises

Social Inequality

Study Questions

  1. How did Karl Marx define class? Make reference to means of production, bourgeoisie, and the proletariat and explain how they are related.
  1. Why are the Highland clearances a good example of class consciousness? Contrast this with an example of false consciousness.
  1. List and describe the three different classes of modern-day Canada as defined by Curtis, Grabb, and Guppy (1999).
  1. Define dominant ideology, counter ideology, and liberal ideology and provide one example for each.
  1. What is hegemony? How is it manifested within our society? Provide two examples.
  1. What is class reductionism and why is it problematic?
  1. Discuss the relationship between social inequality, social mobility and education. Include professional schools, such as medicine, law, etc. in your discussion. Use information from the textbook as well as your own experiences to illustrate your points.

Exploration and Discussion Exercises

  1. How have you experienced social inequality in your life? Using Marx’s theory of the means of production and capital, describe which class of individuals you fit into. Have you ever faced a change in social class (social mobility)? Explain.
  1. Another characteristic of Marx’s view, false consciousness, involves the working class believing that something is in its best interest when, in reality, it is not. On this topic, explore the symbolism of designer purses or athlete endorsed running shoes. Why do working class people sometimes buy such expensive items? Furthermore, why do fake designer purses or fake designer branded athletic shoes exist?
  1. Visit a supermarket and examine the arrangement of goods in terms of hegemony, i.e., where the discounted items are located in the store, the two-for-one items, the shelving practices of the goods to make them more desirable especially the non-essential items (chocolate bars, chips , cold cuts etc…). You may also engage with the flyers in the same fashion.