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Social Stratification

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  1. Social Stratification Social Class And Social Mobility © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  2. Characteristics of Stratification Systems Social stratification describes the structured ranking of individuals and groups and their grading into horizontal layers or strata. • Social stratification depends upon, but is not the same thing as, social differentiation – the process by which a society becomes increasingly specialized over time. • Where people can change their status with relative ease, sociologists refer to the arrangement as an open system. • Where people can not change their status with relative ease, sociologists refer to the arrangement as a closed system. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  3. Characteristics of Stratification Systems • Social stratification is a system by which a society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy. • There are four basic principles of stratification: • Social stratification is a trait of society, not simply a function of individual differences. • Social stratification persists over generations. • However, most societies allow some social mobility or changes in people’s position in a system of social stratification. • Social mobility may be upward, downward, or horizontal. • Social stratification is universal but variable. • Social stratification involves not just inequality but beliefs. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  4. Stratification and Inequality • Social inequality: condition in which members of society have different amounts of wealth, prestige, or power • Stratification: structured ranking of entire groups of people that perpetuates unequal economic rewards and power in a society • Four major stratification systems: slavery, caste, estate, and class © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  5. Caste Systems A caste system is social stratification based on ascription or birth. Caste systems are typical of agrarian societies because the lifelong routines of agriculture depend on a rigid sense of duty and discipline • Caste systems shape people’s lives in four crucial ways: • Caste largely determines occupation. • Caste systems generally mandate endogamy. • Caste systems limit outgroup social contacts. • Powerful cultural beliefs underlie caste systems. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  6. Characteristics of A Caste System • Caste systems shape people’s lives in four crucial ways: • Caste largely determines occupation. • Illustrations: India and South Africa. • systems generally mandate endogamy. • Caste systems limit outgroup social contacts. • Powerful cultural beliefs underlie caste systems. Caste systems are typical of agrarian societies because the lifelong routines of agriculture depend on a rigid sense of duty and discipline. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  7. Caste in Japan • Feudal Japan was divided into several castes: • Nobility. • Samurai or warriors. • Commoners. • The burakumin or outcasts. • Japan today consists of “upper,” “upper-middle,” “lower-middle,” and “lower” classes, and people move between classes over time. But they may still size up one’s social standing through the lens of caste. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  8. Characteristics of Class Systems • In a class system, social stratification is based on both birth and individual achievement. • Industrial societies move towards meritocracy, social stratification based on personal merit. • In a class system, social stratification is based on both birth and individual achievement. • In class systems, status consistency, the degree of consistency of a person’s social standing across various dimensions of social inequality, is lower than in caste systems • In class systems, status consistency, the degree of consistency of a person’s social standing across various dimensions of social inequality, is lower than in caste systems © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  9. The Soviet System • The former Soviet Union. • Although the former Soviet Union claimed to be classless, the jobs people held actually fell into four unequal categories: • apparatchiks or high government officials. • Soviet intelligentsia. • manual workers. • rural peasantry • The second Russian Revolution. • Gorbachev introduced perestroika, and in 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed. • Social mobility is relatively common in the Soviet Union, especially structural social mobility, a shift in the social position of large numbers of people due more to changes in society itself than to individual efforts. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  10. Chinese Stratification • Sweeping political and economic changes are taking place in the People’s Republic of China. • A new class system is emerging with a mix of the old political hierarchy and a new business hierarchy. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  11. The Persistence of Stratification • Stratification persists across generations because it is backed up by an ideology, a set of cultural beliefs that justify social stratification and inequality . • Plato explained that every culture considers some type of inequality “fair.” • Marx understood this fact, although he was far more critical of inequality than Plato. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  12. Characteristics of Estate Systems • Estate stratification systems were agrarian and peasants were required to work land leased to them by nobles in exchange for military protection and other services. • During the feudal era, British society was divided into three estates: • The first estate was the hereditary nobility. • The second estate was the clergy. • The third estate was the commoners. • The United Kingdom today is a class society, but it retains important elements of its former caste system © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  13. The American Class System • Inequality follows relatively consistent and stable patterns that persist through time. • Typically, stratified groups in the United States are referred to as the upper class, the upper middle class, the lower middle class, the working class and and the lower class. • Income inequality is high in the United States; it is increasing; and it is at its highest level in 50 years. • In 2001, the top 20 percent of the population received half of the income and inequality in wealth is even greater. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  14. The American Class System • Social class largely determines people’s life chances and style of life. • Children and the elderly account for nearly half of all Americans living in poverty. • Three theories predominate regarding poverty: • The culture of poverty theory, • poverty as situational • poverty as a structural feature of capitalist societies © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  15. Three primary methods are employed by sociologists in identifying social classes: • the objective method, • the self-placement method, • the reputational method. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  16. Functional Analysis of Stratification • The Davis-Moore thesis is the assertion that social stratification has beneficial consequences for the operations of a society. • It is difficult to specify the functional importance of a given occupation; some are clearly over- or under-rewarded. • Davis-Moore ignores how social stratification can prevent the development of individual talents. • The theory also ignores how social inequality may promote conflict and revolution. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  17. Conflict Analysis of Stratification • Marx saw classes as defined by people’s relationship to the means of production. • Capitalists (or the bourgeoisie) are people who own factories and other productive businesses. • The proletarians sell their productive labor to the capitalists. • Big Bucks: Are the Rich Worth What They Earn? Equating income with social worth is risky business. • Critiques • Marxism is revolutionary and highly controversial. • Marxism fails to recognize that a system of unequal rewards may be necessary to motivate people to perform their social roles effectively. • The revolutionary developments Marx considered inevitable within capitalist societies have failed to happen. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  18. The Failure of the conflict model of Stratification • The capitalist class has fragmented and grown in size, giving more people a stake in the system. • A higher standard of living has emerged. • Blue-collar occupations, lower-prestige work involving mostly manual labor, have declined. • White-collar occupations, higher-prestige work involving mostly mental activity, have expanded. • Workers are better organized than they were in Marx’s day, and their unions have been able to fight for reform. • The government has extended various legal protections to workers. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  19. Defense of Conflict theory of Stratification Wealth remains highly concentrated. • White-collar jobs offer no more income, security, or satisfaction than blue-collar jobs did a century ago. • Class conflict continues between workers and management. • The laws still protect the private property of the rich. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  20. Sociological Study of Stratification Systems Sociologists typically take a multidimensional view of stratification, identifying three components: • economic standing (wealth and income) • prestige • Power Sociologists typically take a multidimensional view of stratification, identifying three components: • economic standing (wealth and income) • prestige • power © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  21. Sociological Study of Stratification Systems • Questions Sociologists Ask about Stratification • What type of system is it • How much social mobility is there • How much inequality is there and what is the basis for inequality • Why is there stratification The founders of Sociology had several set of answers © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  22. Sociological Study of Stratification Systems Many sociologists use the term socioeconomic status, a composite ranking based on various dimensions of social inequality (Income, Occupation, Power) • Inequality in history: Weber’s view. Weber noted that each of his three dimensions of social inequality stands out at different points in the evolution of human societies. • Although social class boundaries may have blurred, all industrial nations still show striking patterns of social inequality. • Income inequality has increased in recent years. Because of this trend, some think Marx’s view of the rich versus the poor is correct. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  23. Social Inequality in the US • U.S. society is highly stratified, but many people underestimate the extent of structured inequality in U.S. society for the following reasons: • In principle, the law gives equal standing to all. • Our culture celebrates individual autonomy and achievement. We tend to interact with people like ourselves © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  24. Social Inequality in the US The United States is an affluent society. • Income consists of wages or salaries from work and earnings from investments. U.S. society has more income inequality than most other industrial societies. • Wealth consists of the total amount of money and other assets, minus outstanding debts. It is distributed even less equally than income. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  25. Income and Wealth • Income: wages and salaries measured over some period, such as per hour or per year • Wealth: total of a person’s material assets, including savings, land, stocks, and other types of property, minus his or her debts at a single point in time © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  26. Mean Household Incomeby Quintile, 2006 © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies Source: U.S. Census 2007d.

  27. The Income Pie: Percent Share of Total Income, 2006 © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies Source: U.S. Census 2007c.

  28. Percentage of Wealth Owned,by Percentile Source: Kennickell 2006: 29. © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies

  29. Power is also unequally distributed. • Occupational prestige. Occupation serves as a key source of social prestige since we commonly evaluate each other according to what we do. • .Schooling affects both occupation and income. • .Social Stratification and Birth. • Ancestry. Family is our point of entry into the social system. • Gender. On average, women have less income, wealth, and occupational prestige than men. • Race and ethnicity. Race is closely linked to social position in the United States. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  30. Why Stratification ? • Explanations of social stratification involve value judgments. • The Bell Curve Debate: Are Rich People Really Smarter?: • A series of claims made in The Bell Curve (Murray, Charles and Hernstein, Richard J., Free Press, 1994) that Race and class are related to intelligence. Historical patterns of ideology. Ideology changes as a society’s economy and technology change. • Is Getting Rich "The Survival of the Fittest"? • Spencer’s view that people get more or less what they deserve in life remains part of our individualistic culture. • Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  31. Social Mobility • The process of moving from one stratification level to another • takes a number of forms: • vertical • horizontal • intergenerational • intragenerational. • Intragenerational social mobility is a change in social position occurring during a person’s lifetime; intergenerational social mobility is upward or downward social mobility of children in relation to their parents. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  32. Social Mobility • When sociologists speak of social mobility, they usually mean intergenerational occupational mobility. • More Americans are upwardly mobile than downwardly mobile across generations. • Sociologists study the course of an individual’s occupational status over the life cycle by looking at the socioeconomic life cycle. • The processes of status attainment are different for women and blacks than for white males. • Critics of status attainment research contend that it has a functionalist bias and that the dual labor market operates to sort people into core or periphery sector jobs. • There is ongoing controversy about whether the American middle class is “shrinking” and whether the American Dream is history. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  33. Social Mobility • Social Classes in the United States. • The upper class. Historically, though less so today, the upper class has been composed of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. • The upper-upper class includes less than 1 percent of the U.S. population. • The lower-upper class are the “working rich”; earnings rather than inherited wealth are the primary source of their income. • Color of Money: Being Rich in Black and White. The number of affluent African Americans has increased markedly in recent years, but well-to-do blacks differ from their white counterparts in significant ways. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  34. Social Mobility • Religion. • Historically, people of English ancestry have enjoyed the most wealth and wielded the greatest power in the United States. • Throughout our history, upward mobility has sometimes meant converting to a higher-ranking religion © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  35. Social Mobility • Education • Impact of formal schooling is even greater than that of family background • Important means of intergenerational mobility • Critical factor in development of cultural capital © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies

  36. Social Mobility • Occupational Mobility • Common among males • Most mobility is minor • Income and Wealth • Mobility occurs, but most do not move very far • Likelihood of ending up in same position as one’s parents has been rising since 1980 © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies

  37. The Shrinking Middle Class • Contributing factors: • Disappearing opportunities for those with little education • Global competition and rapid advances in technology • Growing dependence on temporary workforce • Rise of new-growth industries and nonunion workplaces © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companiesr

  38. What Difference Does Class Make • Health. Richer people live, on average, seven years longer because they eat more nutritious food, live in safer and less stressful environments, and receive better medical care. • Values. Affluent people with greater education and financial security are more tolerant of controversial behavior, while working-class people tend to be less tolerant. • Politics. • Well-off people tend to be more conservative on economic issues but more liberal on social issues. The reverse is true for those people of lower social standing. • Higher-income people are more likely to vote and join political organizations than people in the lower class. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  39. What Difference Does Class Make Family and gender. • Most lower-class families are somewhat larger than middle-class families. • Working-class parents encourage conventional norms and respect to authorities • whereas parents of higher social standing transmit a different “cultural capital” to their children, stressing individuality and imagination. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  40. Life Chances • Max Weber saw class as being closely related to people’s life chances: their opportunities to provide themselves with material goods, positive living conditions, and favorable life experiences • In times of danger, affluent and powerful have a better chance of surviving than people of ordinary means • Digital divide is recent aspect of social inequality © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies

  41. The Shrinking Middle Class • Only about 22 percent of American households qualified as middle class in 2006, compared to 28 percent in 1967 • About half rose to higher ranking, and half dropped to lower position • Suggests broadly based middle class is being replaced by two growing groups of rich and poor © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies

  42. Poverty • In 2006, 36.5 million people in U.S.—12.3 percent of the population—were living in poverty • One in five households has trouble meeting basic needs © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies

  43. Defining Poverty • Absolute poverty: minimum level of subsistence that no family should be expected to live below • Common measure is federal government’s poverty line • Relative poverty: floating standard of deprivation by which people at the bottom of a society are judged as being disadvantaged in comparison with the nation as a whole © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies

  44. The Poverty Rate in Householdswith Children, Selected Countries Note: Data are for 2000 except for Germany (2001) and Mexico (2002). Poverty threshold is 50 percent of nation’s median income. Source: Förster and d’Ercole 2005: 36. © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies

  45. Who Are the Poor? • Our stereotypes about poverty are flawed • Likelihood of being in poverty is shaped by factors such as age, race, ethnicity, and family type • Feminization of poverty is a worldwide phenomenon • Underclass: long-term poor who lack training and skills © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies

  46. Who Are the Poor inthe United States? Note: Data for 2006, as reported by the Bureau of the Census in 2007. Source: DeNavas-Walt et al. 2007. © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies

  47. People Below Poverty Level Source: 2006 census data presented in Bureau of the Census 2007d: Tables R1701, 1901. © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies

  48. Education Pays: Full-Time,Year-Round Workers, Ages 25–64, 2006 © 2006 Alan S. Berger Source: U.S. Census 2007f.

  49. Myth versus reality. • Four general conclusions about social mobility in the United States: • Social mobility over the course of the last century has been fairly high. • The long-term trend in social mobility has been upward. • Within a single generation, social mobility is usually small. • Social mobility since the 1970s has been uneven. • Mobility varies by income level. • Mobility varies by race, ethnicity and gender. • The "American Dream:" Still a reality? • For many workers, earnings have stalled. • Multiple job-holding is up. • More jobs offer little income. • Young people are remaining at home. © 2006 Alan S. Berger

  50. CEOs Get Richer: The Great Mansions Return • The Global Economy and U.S. class structure. Much of the industrial production that gave U.S. workers high-paying jobs a generation ago has moved overseas. In their place, the economy now offers “service work,” which often pays far less. • Poverty in the United States. • Relative poverty refers to the deprivation of some people in relation to those who have more. • Absolute poverty is a deprivation of resources that is life-threatening. • The extent of U.S. Poverty. In 2001, 11.7 percent of the U.S. population was tallied as poor. The typical poor family had to get by on about $10,873 in 2001. © 2006 Alan S. Berger