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Social Stratification

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Phillip S

on 26 March 2015

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Transcript of Social Stratification

the hierarchical arrangement of large social groups based on their control over basic resources

Max Weber
-"life chances" are the extent to which individuals have access to important societal resources such as food, clothing, shelter, education and health care
What is Social Stratification?
What comes to mind when you hear the term "the American Dream"? How might Social Stratification relate to that concept?
What events do you think might cause "downward mobility"? What are things that limit a person's ability to be "upwardly mobile"?
-an extreme example of a closed system
has been used in many societies, not practiced in the same manner today
Systems of Stratification
Systems of Stratification
Open vs. Closed Systems
Social Stratification
Are the boundaries between levels in the hierarchy flexible?
Do the levels consider one's
status or
Open systems are generally characterized by "
Social Mobility
movement of individuals or groups from one level in a stratification system to another
Intergenerational mobility
-social movement experienced by family members from one generation to the next
Intragenerational mobility-
social movement of individuals within their own lifetime
Quiz Yourself!
Nancy has earned an important certification in her field, yet faces difficulty in earning a job due to her gender

This would constitute a closed system, due to emphasis being placed on which type of status?
Greg's father works a low wage job and his family has long been a part of the low income bracket. As an adult, Greg becomes a surgeon and earns a high salary, placing him in the upper class
What type of mobility is this?
Stanley Engerman proposes that debt bondage, child labor, and other types of coerced work are remnants of a slave system that still exists
Caste System
-a system of social inequality in which people's status is permanently determined at birth based on their parents' ascribed characteristics
Systems of Stratification
India-Occupation based
South Africa-Racially based
Marriage is
meaning only within one's own caste
Systems of Stratification
Class System-
a type of stratification based on the ownership and control of resources and on the type of work people do
theoretically more open than a caste system
"Upward Mobility"
Inequality in the United States
-the economic gain derived from wages, salaries, and ownership of property
In 1962: 20% of the wealthiest Americans owned 76% of the wealth
In 2007: 20% of the wealthiest Americans owned 85% of the wealth
In 1972: 1% of the wealthiest Americans owned 21% of the wealth
In 2007: 1% of the wealthiest Americans owned 35% of the wealth
In 1970: the poorest 20% earned 4.1% of all the income
In 2005: the poorest 20% earned 3.4% of all the income
It appears the rich are getting richer and the poor are growing poorer? Why do you think that may be occurring?
Consequences of Inequality
Socio-economic conditions influence physical, and mental health
Lack of affordable housing and substandard housing
Educational opportunities differ largely between income levels
More socially and physically separate leading to less understanding between classes
Poverty in the United States
Who are the poor?
Currently, children are at a greater risk of living in poverty than the elderly
Older Women are twice as likely as older Men to be poor
African-Americans and Latinos/as are more likely to be poor
Economic and Structural Sources of Poverty
Unemployment-Major cause of poverty
Economic and Structural Sources of Poverty
Changes in economic structure
The United States has seen a steady decrease in manufacturing jobs over the past three decades
"Job deskilling"-a reduction in the proficiency needed to perform a specific job that may lead to a corresponding reduction in the wages for that job
Sociological Explanations of Social Inequality
As always, these ideas differ by perspective
Functionalist Perspectives
Inequality is inevitable and necessary for smooth functioning of society (Davis-Moore)
All societies have important tasks that must be accomplished and certain positions that must be filled
Some positions are more important for the survival of society than others
The most qualified must fill the most important positions
Positions that are the most important and require rare talents, must be highly rewarded
Most highly rewarded positions should be those that other positions rely on for expertise
This system assumes society operates as a
"a hierarchy in which all positions are rewarded based on people's ability and credentials"
A criticism of the Davis-Moore thesis is that it ignores inequalities based on inherited wealth and family status
Conflict Perspectives
People with economic and political power are able to shape and distribute the rewards and opportunities in society for their own benefit

Past injustices (racial, gender, etc.) still largely shape the opportunities different groups have

Thus we are not a true meritocracy
Sociological Explanations of Social Inequality
Symbolic-Interactionist Perspective
This perspective studies small-small social interactions
Sociological Explanations of Social Inequality
a type of ceremonial activity that functions as a symbolic means whereby appreciation is conveyed to a recipient

The actions confirms the inequality between each party

names to address someone
Do you identify more with the Functionalist view that society is a "meritocracy" or with the Conflict perspective that the powerful shape the opportunities others have?
Full transcript