SOC 420 Social Inequality in Canada

So if there is any feature of the social world that deserves serious analytical attention, its inequality.  Not only is it at the center of things, but it matters, we could say, right down to our bones” (Michael Schwalbe, 2008, p. 4).   

Social inequality is a controversial an issue in Canada.  In a world of paradoxes (i.e. people without jobs, jobs without people), the politics of social inequality possess the potential to destabilize society to the point of collapse. Yet, inequality in terms of its theory and practice remain a contested a topic within Sociology. This course acknowledges the dangers of such a contested reality by sociologically examining patterns of social inequality based on differential access (‘who gets what’) and differential distribution (‘what goes where’) in a Canada that aspires to do better. Ultimately, the course aims to debunk those comforting fictions that paper over inconvenient truths.

Upon completion of the course, each student should be able to:

1. better understand the social dimensions and determinants of inequality from a sociological perspective;

2. see that inequality matters by increasing the probability that something ‘bad’ will happen;

3. see how reframing social inequality (‘income’) as social exclusions (‘quality of life’) provides a more sociological understanding;

4. understand that neither society nor institutions are value free or neutral but inherently unequal because of founding assumptions and foundational principles that define normalcy, acceptability, and desirability of its constitutional order along racial, gender, class, and colonial lines;

5. understand the politics of social inequality by connecting Canada with the global and globalization;

6. better understand Canadian society by refracting it through the prism of social inequality, and vice versa.