Social Stratification Resources
What is Social Stratification
- For tens of thousands of years, humans lived in small hunting and gathering societies.
- Stratification based on Gender & Age
- As societies became more complex, major changes came about.
- Changes elevated certain categories of the population by giving them more power, money, and prestige
- Structured inequality of access to rewards, resources, and privileges that are scarce and desirable within a society.
- Inequality of an entire category of people, who have different access to social rewards as a result of their status in a social hierarchy.
- Social stratification is a trait of society, not simply a reflection of individual differences.
- Children born into wealthy families are more likely than children born in poverty to experience good health, achieve academically, succeed in life’s work and live a long life.
- Titanic lower strata did not die because of personal failing
Social stratification persists over generations.
- In all societies, parents pass their social position on to their children.
Social stratification is universal but variable.
- In some societies, inequality is mostly a matter of prestige; in others, wealth or power is the key dimension of difference. More importantly some societies display more inequality than others.
Social stratification involves not just inequality but beliefs.
- Any system of inequality gives some people more than others and the society also defines the arrangements as fair.
Social Inequality à condition in which members of a society have different amounts of wealth, prestige, and power
- Wealth: All of a persons material assets (land, auto, home, jewelry)
Forms of Stratification:
- Social Class
Caste System in India
- Impossible to maintain the caste system unaltered in contemporary India.
- Introduction of new professions
- Wageworkers are hired on the basis of qualifications (achieved status) rather then caste
- Authorities actively try to level out differences between castes through quotas for various castes in the public sector.
- Urbanization makes it difficult to classify the people one meets.
- Moving to city where no one knows you, one can escape stigma of caste
- Believed that social class is more than just differences in material wealth.
- Other defining characteristics:
- Power – ability to achieve one’s goals and control others, even against the will of others
- Political Status
- Prestige– degree of respect, favorable regard, or importance according to an individual by members of a society
- Social Status
- Wealth (Property) – accumulated economic resources
- Economic Status
HOW DO FUNCTIONALISTS VIEW SOCIAL STRATIFICATION?
- Society’s positions must be filled.
- Some positions are more important than others.
- The more important positions are filled by qualified people.
HOW DO CONFLICT THEORISTS VIEW SOCIAL STRATIFICATION?
- No society can exist unless it is organized.
- Leadership means inequalities of power.
- Human nature is self-centered so there are injustices in how the power is divided and used.
Dimensions of Social Inequality
- Income- wages or salary from work and earnings from investments.
Wealth- the total value of money and other assets, minus outstanding debts.
- Wealth includes stocks, bonds, and real estate— is distributed even less equally than income.
- Occupational Prestige
- In addition to being a source of income, work also provides social prestige. We commonly evaluate each other according to the kind of work we do, respecting some and looking down on others