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Chapter 13. Social Stratification in Contemporary Societies: Class, Caste and Race. Chapter Questions & key points. How do anthropologists explain social stratification? What are some differences among class-, caste- , and racially stratified societies?

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Chapter 13 l.jpg

Chapter 13

Social Stratification in Contemporary Societies: Class, Caste and Race


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Chapter Questions & key points

  • How do anthropologists explain social stratification?

  • What are some differences among class-, caste- , and racially stratified societies?

  • Degree to which individuals have equal access to wealth, power & prestige.

  • Basis:

    • Physical appearance, ethnicity, profession, family background, gender, ideology, age or skill in economic/political roles.


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Chapter Questions

  • What are some characteristics of the social stratification system in the United States, and how does it affect the lives and lifestyles of individuals and groups?

  • How has anthropology contributed to antiracism in the United States?

  • What are some similarities and differences between the racial stratification systems of Brazil and the United States?


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Dimensions of Social Inequality (stratification)

  • Power—control resources in one’s own interest.

  • Wealth—accumulation of material resources or access to production.

  • Prestige—social honor or respect.


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Status & Types of Societies

  • Ascribed Status

  • Achieved Status

  • Types of societies:

    • Egalitarian

    • Rank societies

    • Stratified

      • Class

      • Caste


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Social Class in the United States

  • Status depends on occupation, education, and lifestyle.

  • “The American Dream,” democratic principle of equality and opportunity for all.

  • Social class in the United States.

    • Homeless people

    • Welfare recipients

    • Money “whitens”


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Caste System

  • System of stratification based on birth.

  • Movement from one caste to another is not possible.

  • Castes are hereditary, endogamous, ranked in relation to one another and usually associated with a traditional occupation.


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Hindu Caste System

Four caste categories

  • Brahmins - priests and scholars

  • Kshatriyas - ruling and warrior caste

  • Vaisyas - the merchants

  • Shudras - menial workers and artisans

  • Harijans – “untouchables”


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U.S. Racial Stratification Systems

  • Race- social construction & biological fallacy.

  • Divides people into “blacks” and “whites”

    • Theories of stratification

      • Social inequality- a human universal?

    • Rule of Hypo descent.

    • “Melting pot” & Anglo Conformity

    • Separatism or Pluralism (Multiculturalism)

    • By year 2050- 53% Latinos

    • Immigration issues


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Race Stratification in the U.S. and Brazil

  • Two largest multiracial societies in the Americas.

  • Legacy of slavery =racial inequality.

  • Brazil: 45% of nonwhite families and 25% of white families live below the poverty line.

  • U.S.: 30% of nonwhite families and 8% of white families live below the poverty line.


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