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Social Stratification

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  1. Social Stratification Sociology, Eleventh Edition

  2. Social Stratification • For many years, humans lived in hunting and gathering communities. • Over time, societies began to elevate people to higher social positions, giving them more wealth, power and prestige. • Social Stratification - a system by which a society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

  3. Discussion Questions • Does a hierarchy exist at Central? • Who is at the top? Bottom? • Do you think a hierarchy is more noticeable in smaller schools or larger schools?

  4. Basic Principles • Social Stratification is based on four basic principles: • A trait of society • Does not reflect individual differences. • Social standing is the result of the way society offers opportunity & reward. • Ex. Rich  healthier children • Persists over generations • Social mobility happens slowly. • Universal but variable • While universal, it varies in type. • Involves not just inequality but beliefs • The explanation of why people should be unequal differs from society to society.

  5. Social Mobility • Social mobility – a change in position within social hierarchy. • Upward or downward. • Horizontal social mobility – switching from one job to another at about the same social level. • Most people have the same social standing throughout life. • Structural Social Mobility – change in social position due to changes in society itself. • Social stratification may involve differences in: • What is unequal • How unequal people are • Why people are unequal

  6. Discussion Question • Conforming to the norm, “Women and children first,” 80% of the Titanic casualties were men. Perhaps times have changed: In a 1992 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette survey, 65% of men said they would not give up their lifeboat for a woman or child. • Do you think this is a true reflection of what most men think? • Why? Sociology, Eleventh Edition

  7. Caste and Class Systems

  8. The Caste System • Social stratification based on ascription (birth). • Closed system – little change in social position. • In India, birth determines social position in four distinct ways: • Occupation (one type of work) • Marriage within caste (endogamous) • Social life is restricted to “own kind” to prevent being “polluted”. • Caste systems are often tied to religious dogma.

  9. Caste System • Caste system is illegal, but elements survive. • Typically caste systems are found in agrarian societies.

  10. India Caste System • Brahman/Brahmin • Kshatriya • Vaishya • Shudra • Harijans

  11. Apartheid • Separation of races • South Africa • 1948-1994 • Little improvement for millions poor, black people http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVw9UjHPEt8

  12. Class Systems • Social stratification based on both birth and individual achievement. • How talented and hardworking people are. • Open system • Social mobility for people with education and skills. • All people gain equal standing before the law. • Work and marriage involves personal choice. • Replacement of caste systems with class systems replaces one kind of inequality with another.

  13. Meritocracy • Meritocracy: based on personal merit • Knowledge, abilities and effort • Unequal rewards based on individual performance. • Pure meritocracy – • Constant social mobility • Blurred social categories • Elimination of families and other social loyalties that tie a society together. • No inheritance

  14. Status Consistency • The degree of consistency in a person’s social standing across various dimensions of social inequality. • The degree of status consistency is greater in caste systems than class systems. • Ex: Most college professors have an advanced degree but average salaries = low status consistency. • Classes are harder to define than castes.

  15. Stratification Changes Caste to Meritocracy The United Kingdom • The three estates: • The First Estate - Clergy (church officials) • The Second Estate - Nobility (hereditary, wealthy, no occupation, held a title) • Primogeniture – passing of property onto the first born male. • The Third Estate - Commoners (Majority of people) Sociology, Eleventh Edition

  16. Stratification Changes Caste to Meritocracy • Japan • For more than 2,000 years, Japanese society operated with a caste system. • Nobility, samurai, commoners, burakumin (outcasts) • Today, lines between classes are unclear. • When sizing up people socially, family background is never far from the surface, though it may not be discussed openly. • Former Soviet Union • Russian revolution eliminated the feudal estate system and left Russia with a “classless society”. • The 1917 Russian Revolution transformed an agrarian society, placing productive property under the control of the state. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

  17. Discussion Question • Consider why most US adults claim inequality based on race is wrong while claiming that economic inequality is mostly right because some people have more talent and training and put forth more of an effort than others. • What do you think about racial inequality versus economic inequality? • Are they different? Are they based on the same principle? Sociology, Eleventh Edition

  18. Ideology • Cultural beliefs that justify stratification, including inequality. • Ex. Rich people are smart and poor people are lazy. • Plato • Every culture considers some type of inequality “fair”. • Marx • Capitalist societies keep wealth and power for a few (the elite). • Spencer • “survival of the fittest” • A common ideology of a class system states that success is typically an indication of sheer luck.

  19. The Functions of Social Stratification

  20. The Davis-Moore Thesis • Social stratification has beneficial consequences for the operation of a society. • The greater the importance of a position, the more rewards a society attaches to it. • Egalitarian societies offer little incentive for people to try their best. • The only way an egalitarian society could exist is if people are willing to allow anyone to perform any job. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

  21. Davis & Moore • A system of unequal rewards increases productivity by: • Encouraging people to gain the schooling and skills needed to perform more important jobs. • Encouraging people to perform more important jobs. • Motivating people to work longer, harder or better. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

  22. Stratification & Conflict

  23. Karl Marx: Class and Conflict • Most people have one of two relationships with the means of production. • Own productive property (capitalist class) “bourgeoisie” • Work for others “proletariat” • Capitalism creates great inequality in power and wealth which leads to class conflict. • This oppression would drive the working majority to organize and overthrow the capitalism. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

  24. Why No Marxist Revolution? • Fragmentation of the capitalist class • Higher standard of living • Blue-collar work – lower prestige jobs that involve manual labor. • White-collar - higher prestige jobs that involve mostly mental activity. • More worker organizations • More extensive legal protections Sociology, Eleventh Edition

  25. Was Marx Right? • Wealth still remains highly concentrated. • 40% of privately owned property is owned by 1% of population. • Many of today’s white collar jobs offer no more income, security or satisfaction than factory work did a century ago. • Workers benefits came from struggle. • Conflict and distrust still remain as obstacles between management and workers. • Law still protects private property of rich. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

  26. Max Weber: Class, Status, and Power • Three distinct dimensions of inequality • Class position (economic) • Viewed “classes” as a continuum from high to low. • Status (prestige) • Power • Socioeconomic status (SES) • Composite ranking based on various dimensions of social inequality. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

  27. Weber: Inequality in History • Weber’s three dimensions of inequality stands out at different points in the evolution of human societies. • Agrarian – emphasize status (social prestige) taking the form of honor. • Industrial – eliminate traditional rankings but create financial inequality. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

  28. Weber v. Marx: Socialism • Marx said that social stratification would end with the creation of a socialist economy. • Weber thought socialism would reduce economic differences but also create a political elite increasing differences in power.

  29. Stratification and Interaction

  30. Stratification and Interaction • Sociologists typically think of social stratification as a macro-level issue. • It’s important to analyze SS as a micro-level issue because people’s social standing affects their everyday interactions. • People tend to socialize with others of the same social position. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

  31. Stratification and Interaction • Conspicuous consumption - buying and using products because of the “statement” they make about social positions. • Ex. Wearing name brand products to impress your friends. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

  32. Applying Theory (Re-teaching) • Structural Functional – Macro level • Definition – a framework for building theory that sees society as a complex systems whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability. • Key Terms – Solidarity, stability, benefits, needed for operation of society • Key People – Comte, Durkheim, Spencer, Robert Merton • Social inequality benefits society. Sociology, Eleventh Edition

  33. Applying Theory (Re-teaching) • Social-Conflict – Macro Level • Definition – a framework for building theory that sees society as an arena of inequality that generates conflict and change. • Key Terms – Conflict, change, inequality, divide • Key People – Karl Marx, W.E.B. Du Bois • Social inequality is harmful and divides society

  34. Applying Theory (Re-teaching) • Symbolic Interaction – Micro Level • Definition – a framework for building theory that sees society as the product of the everyday interactions of individuals. • Key Terms – everyday interaction, individuals • Key People – Max Weber • Social inequality guides people’s interaction in everyday life.

  35. Stratification and Technology:A Global Perspective

  36. Stratification and Technology:a Global Perspective • Hunting and gathering societies • Closest to being egalitarian • Horticultural, pastoral, and agrarian societies • According to Kuznets, social stratification is greatest in agrarian societies • Industrial societies • As postindustrial societies develop, inequality increases. Sociology, Eleventh Edition