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Social Stratification. Some Terms. Sociologists call the division of society into categories, ranks, or classes Social Stratification . Can be ascribed statuses like ancestry, race, age, physical appearance, gender Can be achieved statuses, like level of education, occupation, or wealth

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Social Stratification


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    1. Social Stratification

    2. Some Terms • Sociologists call the division of society into categories, ranks, or classes Social Stratification. • Can be ascribed statuses like ancestry, race, age, physical appearance, gender • Can be achieved statuses, like level of education, occupation, or wealth • Divisions like these create Social Inequality, the unequal sharing of scared resources and social rewards

    3. Types of Social Stratification • Closed Systems: movement between the status levels is not possible • A person is assigned a status at birth, and emails at that level throughout life. • Open Systems: movement between social strata is possible. • How easy those movements are depends on the open the society is. • Caste systems are VERY closed • Class systems are relatively open by comparison

    4. Stratification Systems Caste Systems • Status is ascribed – you’re born there, you stay there • Effort may affect a persons position WITHIN a caste, it won’t help them move to a higher status • There are elaborate norms to govern interaction between members of different castes • Strict endogamy: marriage is allowed only within a person’s own social category

    5. Stratification Systems Class Systems • Scarce resources & rewards are determined on the basis of achieved statuses • This means that individuals have at least some control over tier place in the stratification system • BUT… if you can move up, you can move down too. • Social classes are groups of people with similar levels of wealth, power, & prestige

    6. Dimensions of Social Stratification Wealth • Made up of a person’s assets & income • Richest 1% owns more than 1/3rd of the wealth in the U.S. • The top 1/5th earns more than 50% of the total national income • Income gap is growing • Average corporate executive makes 419 as much as the average production worker • Only 42 to 1 in 1980

    7. Dimensions of Social Stratification Power • The ability to control the behavior of others… with or without their consent • Can be based on force, the position of a skill, personal characteristics, custom, and tradition

    8. Dimensions of Social Stratification Prestige • The respect, honor, recognition or courtesy & individual receives from other members of society. • Can be based on any characteristics a society or groups considers important • Income, occupation education, family background, area of residence, possessions, & club memberships

    9. Explaining Stratification Functionalist Theory • Certain roles must be fulfilled for society to be maintained. • The more important the role & the more skill needed to perform it, the greater the rewards • Without varying rewards, many jobs would go unfilled • Who would spend 12 years in school to become a doctor if it didn’t pay well? • But that doesn’t explain the high pay for athletes & musicians, does it?

    10. Explaining Stratification Conflict Theory • Sees competition over resources as the cause of social inequality • Marxist theorists say that the owners of the means of production control the working class in order to make profits and maintain their power in society. • Other forms say that it is competition between groups that gain & hold power by shaping public policy