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SOCIAL STRATIFICATION AND CLASS
Transcript of SOCIAL STRATIFICATION AND CLASS
Class: The basis of social stratification in capitalist societies
How can we understand class?
Marx and Weber
There are two main differences between the two theories.
although Weber accepts Marx's view that class is founded on objectively given economic conditions, he sees a greater variety of economic factors as important in class formation than are recognized by Marx. According to Weber, class divisions derive
from control or lack of control of the means of production, but from
which have nothing directly to do with property.
include especially the skills and credentials or qualifications which affect the types of job people are able to obtain.
Weber distinguishes two other basic aspects of stratification besides class. One he calls
and the other
He in fact adapted the notion of status groups from the example of mediaeval estates, the word he used in German (Stand) meaning both.
all animals are equal yet some are more equal than others
a system by which society ranks categories of people in a
(category continues to exist even if individuals move out of it and into another category)
involves the arrangement of individuals into
or classes that lie above another in a hierarchy of advantaged & disadvantaged life chances (ur life chances r determined by str)
is universal but variable
along the lines of some characteristics (class, race/ethnicity, gender)
members of stratum are tied together through social relations & interactions; they become a real and cohesive social group
members may develop their own distinctive attitudes & values that may conflict with the values of other strata
weekend plans for different classes
Four basic systems of stratification:
1. slavery- different forms of slavery in Ancient Greece, Africa, America. (Is slavery over?)
enslaved brick-makers in Pakistan; sex slaves in Thailand, domestic slaves in Cyprus or maybe even Turkey?
2. caste-lifelong stratification based on race/ethnicity; emphasis on purity, protection of race---endogamy
Indian caste system:
1. Brahmins (scholars and spiritual leaders)
2. Ksatriyas (soldiers and rulers)
3. Vaisyas (farmers and merchants)
4. Shudras (laborers and artisans)
---5--Dalits (untouchables, oppressed)
Jews were treated as a caste in Europe--
: derives from Venetian 'foundry' one of Europe's first official ghettos.
: South African caste system separating black Africans, Indians, mixed races and Indians from Whites
enforced through legislation by the National Party (NP) governments, from 1948 to 1994, under which the rights of the majority black inhabitants were curtailed
African National Congress resisted and won their struggle in 1992
estates: feudal strata where members of strata
have different obligations and rights vis a vis
4. class-a large scale grouping of people who share common economic resources which influences their lifestyles, advantages and disadvantages
1. class systems are fluid-no legal or strict separation-possibility of moving from one class to another
2. class positions are somehow achieved-no birth given position(?)
3. class is economically based
4. class systems are large scale and impersonal
Marx or Weber?
no systematic analysis of the concept of class in Marx
class: a group of people who stand i
relation to the means of production
in agrarian societies class distinction was on the basis of the ownership of land; in modern times it is on the basis of capital/factories
the class relationship is always exploitative -in agrarian society--- you were forced to give a certain proportion of your production to landowner in modern societies you sell your labor
What is distinctive about modern class relations?
in capitalist economies: you rent your labor-the profit is much greater than the cost of your labor
With the development of modern industry wealth is produced on a scale greater than earlier times, but workers have little access to the wealth their labor creates.
exploitation grows in time --
n: process by which the working class grows increasingly impoverished in relation to capitalist class
work frequently becomes dull and oppressive in the extreme.
stratification derives from class
stratification is more complex system than class distinction in modern societies
Three bases of stratification:
: a class as a group of individuals who share a similar position in a market economy and by virtue of that fact receive similar economic rewards
results from the
distribution of property
and other resources in capital, labor and product market.
yet class division does
from property. Skills, and qualifications can also have an impact on class positions. HOW???
class-->market value of one person in economic domain--market position
results from the
distribution of prestige or social hono
r within a community (age, gender, kinship, birth\ occupation in modern soc)
Markers and symbols of status - such as housing, dress, manner of speech and occupation ---LIFESTYLE
it may be either positive or negative
In contrast to Marx,
Weber thought that status and class could fluctuate independently. Whereas class is
given, status depends upon people's
evaluations of social differences. Classes derive from the economic factors associated with property and earnings; status is governed by the varying
styles of life
results from the distribution of authority and administrative power in party organizations or business enterprises.
party formation is an important aspect of power, and can influence stratification independently of class and status. Party defines a group of individuals who work together because they have common backgrounds, aims or interests.
Marx too recognizes the complexity of class systems.
: class groups left over from an earlier type of production system, which persist for long after that system has disappeared, such as peasants.
there are also splits within classes, such as
1. There are often conflicts between financial capitalists (like bankers) and industrial manufacturers.
2. There are divisions of interest between small businesses and large corporations.
3. Within the working class long-term unemployed have worse conditions of life than the majority of workers. These groups often consist largely of ethnic minorities.
while for Marx status distinctions are result of class divisions, for Weber status might diverge from class. EXAMPLE: BEYAZ TURK VS. ?
Erik Olin Wright's theory of class:
According to Wright, there are three dimensions of control over economic resources in modern capitalist production, and these allow us to identify the major classes which exist.
1. Control over investments or money capital.
2. Control over the physical means of production (land or factories and offices).
3. Control over labor-power.
wright's suggestion of a nested model
members of capitalist class have control over each of these dimensions within the production system.
Members of the working class have control of none of them
!!!!contradictory class locations!!!!
groups which are able to influence some aspects of production, but are denied control over others.
NEITHER WORKERS NOR CAPITAL OWNERS BUT ALSO SHARE FEATURES OF BOTH
Descriptive stratification theorists have totally ignored the problem of exploitation-- ‘disadvantage’, and even domination is absent from their approach. To recognize exploitation and domination as central axes of class analysis is to recognize the importance of a structure of social positions distinct from the persons who fill those positions. Marxist analysts of class, after all, have always in practice included discussions of the individual attributes and material life conditions of people located within an economic structure, and life chances are an integral part of the concept of social relations of production. For many Marxists, however, the main challenge is to recognize that to develop a specific array of causal mechanisms (rather than to aspire to be a comprehensive paradigm.) "ERIC OLIN WRIGHT"
how should we understand the class positions of doctors, managers, lawyers etc?
even if you assume them to be the members of a working class, do they act so? if not why? which factors do come into play? In what sense do they differ from blue collars? What are the impacts of such differences?
Wright takes 2 factors into account:
1. the relationship to authority
managers, supervisors--assist capitalist class in their control of the working class
are rewarded for loyalty
but still are under the control of capitalist owners
2. the possession of skills or enterprise--those with a skill enjoy some autonomy
How to operationalize class? (how can we understand the relationship between class and voting behaviors, patterns, health & education level, consumption habits) in modern societies?
operationalization: transforming a concept into a measurable variable in a study. the clear and concrete definition of a concept to be tested through empirical research.
class schemes: most analyses are based on occupational structure. (which of them fall together? teachers, engineers, professors, lawyers, bank managers, mine workers, IT specialists, web developers, freelance translators etc.)
occupation-->similar degrees of social advantage or disadvantage; similar lifestyles & similar opportunities of life
descriptive class schemes vs. relational class schemes.
John Goldthorpe (example of relational scheme)
identifying class locations on the basis of 2 main factors:
material rewards and life chances of an occupation
power and authority vested in an occupation
different types of employment contract
recently replaced by
labor contract vs. service contract
supposes an exchange of wages and effort for a limited time and defined work
presupposes a future
promotion or salary growth
downsides of Goldthorpe's class schemes:
occupational class schemes are difficult to apply to the economically inactive (unemployed, students, pensioners & children, housewives)
does not take wealth and property ownership into account--how about mirasyediler such as ido tatlises or paris hilton?
how can we understand class when new occupations are in the rise? what about the shift from industrial production to service and knowledge work?
how did social classes change? isn't there a change?
John Scott: senior executives
industrial entrepreneurs & finance capitalists
constellation of interests
professionals, managers and top administrators
teachers, doctors, small business owners
sellers of mental and physical labor power
not a homogenous body
the growth of corporations
rise of welfare state and bureaucracy
increased demand for service experts
credentials and skills important-- increased
job security in comparison with workers
formation of a class interest among professionals
emergence of professionals, managers and top administrators
1. entry into the profession is restricted to those who meet a strict criteria
2. a professional association-monitoring activities of members
3. only members of profession are qualified to perform the job
what is the challenge directed at embourgeoisement thesis and managerialism?
Goldthorpe "affluent worker" study
1. mainstream understanding of class in terms of occupation
2. Marxist understanding of class in terms of control over capital and means of prodn.
3. complexity of class positions
3.1.managerialism & upper class
3. 2. embourgeoisement
3. challenges to 3
3.1. affluent worker study
underclass: a group characterized by multiple disadvantages-long-term unemployed, unskilled, marginalized groups. Examples?????
ethnic minority groups; gendered minority groups
What happens to class?
If we modify our conception of capital we can understand the structure and dynamics of class formation and social stratification.
a shift from production to consumption & and the blending of different forms of capital
1. economic capital: those properties and fiscal resources that
individuals gain and use.
2. cultural capital -education, taste, appreciation of arts
3. social capital-networks of friends and contacts that an
4. symbolic capital -possessing reputation
example of symbolic capital
each of them can be translated into another
holding of one would also pave the way for the acquisition of the other one
stratification betw. classes depends on both occupation and differences in consumption and lifestyle
modern societies= consumer societies=mass society; class differences seem to be overridden
yet for scholars like Bourdieu class differences can alse become intensified through variations in lifestyle and taste.
1. women are put in the same class
status with their husbands/fathers
denies women's contribution to household income
wife's working situation may determine a family's
consideration of wife and husband in different class
proportion of households where women are breadwinners
are on the rise
vertical mobility: movement up-down
lateral mobility: geographical movement
intragenerational mobility: mobility in one's life
intergenerational mobility: mobility accross generations
How much chance does someone from a poor background have of reaching the top of the economic ladder?
What forms of inequalities exist in contemporary societies?
What social factors will influence your economic position in society?
Are your chances any different if you are a woman?
How does globalization of the economy affect your life chances?
for a political novel on slavery in America read Ralph Ellison' s "Invisible Man"
for a depiction of the Jewish Question in Europe watch "Merchant of Venice" (shakespeare)
critique of Marx by some analysts
1. Marx's characterization of capitalist society as splitting
into 'two classes' - owners and workers is too simple (gender, ethnicity, skilled, unskilled labor distinction?) T.B. Bottomore (Classes in Modern Society, 1965)
2. How about the Communist Revolution? Class consciousness? Emancipation? Unification of the working class at global level? How about the growing # of working class?
3. How about other axes of social identity? Why don't people in a certain country do not rebel on the basis of their class but on the basis of their national or religious identity?
do you agree? why? why not?
Class, status and party can all influence a person’s social
large-scale urban, post-industrial societies.
Goldthorpe explicitly rejects the Marxist concepts of e.g. exploitation and class formation, but maintains the explicit focus upon economic structures.
EGP identifies three basic positions: employer, self-employed and employee, and then divides employees into classes on the basis of employment relations – effectively according to the type of employment contracts that employees are given by their employers
a. The importance of "theoretical perspective".
Both Marx and Weber were looking at the same things, using very similar concepts.
However, their analysis and conclusions tended to differ mainly because they were
concerned to explain different things.
b. Marx and Weber were in many ways complimentary to each other, sociologically, in the sense
that they both tell us useful things about the nature of social stratification.
Marx tells us something about the general nature of social stratification (a kind of "macro
Weber tells us something about the specific nature of social stratification (a kind of "micro
In this respect, this difference is reflected in terms of their overall theoretical perspectives,
whereby Marx's "conflict approach" can be contrasted with Weber's "conflict perspective" on the
basis that the former emphasized the importance of "
(the way in which individual
behaviour is conditioned by the general structure of social relationships) while the latter
emphasized the importance of "
(the ability of individuals to influence the nature of
their social relationships in sociologically significant ways).
both weber & marx
modern theories on stratification
Higher-grade professionals, administrators, and officials; managers in large industrial establishments; large proprietors
Lower-grade professionals, administrators,
social mobility refers to the movement of individuals and groups between different socio-economic positions.
ibrahim tatlıses/ebru gündes: from lower class to upper class