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Stratification. What is Social Stratification?. Social stratification – a system by which a society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy. Stratification is a trait of society. It persists over generations. It is universal, but variable. It involves not just inequality, but beliefs.

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what is social stratification
What is Social Stratification?
  • Social stratification – a system by which a society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy.
  • Stratification is a trait of society.
  • It persists over generations.
  • It is universal, but variable.
  • It involves not just inequality, but beliefs.
caste and class systems
A caste system – social stratification based on ascription or birth.

Birth alone determines one’s destiny.

There is little opportunity for social mobility.

A class system – social stratification based on both birth and individual achievement.

Even blood relatives may have different social standings.

Meritocracy – based on personal merit.

Caste and Class Systems
wealth power united states
Wealth & Power: United States
  • Top 1% of households owns 50% of the stock, financial securities, and trust equity; 66% of business equity, 36% of non-home real estate
  • Top 10% owns 90% of the stock, financial securities, and trust equity; 75% non-home real estate
ideology the power behind stratification
Ideology: The Power Behind Stratification
  • We wonder how societies persist without sharing resources more equally.
  • Ideology – cultural beliefs that justify social stratification.
  • A belief that the rich are smart, and the poor are lazy, is ideological.
the functions of social stratification
Social inequality plays a vital role.

The Davis-Moore Thesis – stratification has beneficial consequences for the operation of a society.

Certain jobs can be performed by almost anyone.

Other jobs demand the scarce talents of people with extensive training.

The greater the importance of a position, the more rewards attached to it.

The Functions of Social Stratification
stratification and conflict
Stratification and Conflict
  • Stratification provides some people with advantages over others.
  • Karl Marx explained you can either own property, or work for others.
  • Capitalism makes class conflict inevitable.
  • In time, oppression and misery should drive the working majority to overthrow capitalism.
dimensions of class
Dimensions of Class
  • Income
    • Occupational wages and earnings from investments
  • Wealth
    • The total value of money and other assets, minus any debt
  • Social power
    • The ability to control, even in the face of resistance
  • Occupational prestige
    • Job-related status
  • Schooling
    • Key to better career opportunities
social classes
Social Classes
  • The upper class
    • 5 % of the population
  • The middle class
    • 40-45% of the population
  • The working class
    • 33% of the population
  • The lower class
    • The remaining 20% of people
a middle class society
A Middle Class Society
  • Everyone stands equal under the law
  • We celebrate individuality
  • We interact mostly with people like ourselves
    • Most do not know “superrich” or or those in “poverty”
  • The U.S. Is an affluent society
    • Belief that everyone is financially comfortable
  • Socioeconomic status (SES) reflects money (income, wealth & power), occupational prestige and schooling
upper class
Upper Class
  • The upper-uppers
    • The blue bloods
    • Membership almost always based on ascription
    • They have “old money”
    • They are set apart by the amount of wealth their families control
    • Much time devoted to community activities
  • The lower-uppers
    • The working rich people
    • The “new rich” by “old money” standards
    • Can still find themselves excluded from certain organizations and clubs
social stratification birth
Social Stratification & Birth
  • Ancestry
    • Born to privilege or poverty makes a big difference
  • Gender
    • More poor families are headed by women
  • Race and ethnicity
    • Disparity still exist when comparing majority and minority groups on social and financial variables
  • Religion
    • Members of protestant denominations (Episcopalians and Presbyterians) are identified as the most affluent
middle class
Middle Class
  • More racial and ethnic diversity
  • Upper-middles
    • $80,000 to $160,000 yearly income
    • Education is important
    • High occupational prestige
    • Involvement in local politics
  • Average-middles
    • Less prestige in occupation
    • Few white collar, or high-skilled blue collar jobs
    • Income provides modest security
    • 50% kids attend state-sponsored colleges
working class
Working Class
  • Marxist “industrial proletariat”
    • $25,000 to $40,000 annual income
  • “Blue-collar” routine jobs with less satisfaction
  • Half own their own homes
  • Fewer children go to college (only one-third)
  • Vulnerable to financial problems caused by unemployment or illness
lower class
Lower Class
  • 31.1 million Americans classified as poor in 2000
  • Others are “working poor” minimum wage jobs
  • Half complete high school, one in four attend college
  • Own homes in less desirable inner city neighborhoods or rural south
the difference class makes
The Difference Class Makes
  • Health
    • Amount and type of health care
  • Cultural values
    • Vary with position
  • Politics
    • Conservative or liberal
    • Degree of involvement
  • Family and gender
    • Type of parental involvement
    • Socialization practices
    • Relationships and responsibilities