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Ashley Wilson Introduction to Society Chapter 10 Social Stratification What is social stratification Social stratification: system by which a society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy is based on four important principles 1. social stratification is a trait of society, not simply a reflection of individual differences 2. social stratification carries over from generation to generation 3. social stratification is universal but variable 4. social stratification involves not just inequality but beliefs as wellTakes two general forms: caste systems and class systemsCaste and class systemsClosed systems which allows for little change in social positionOpen systems which permit much more social mobility Closed systems are called caste systemsOpen systems are class systemsCaste system: social stratification based on ascription or birth A pure caste system is closed because birth alone determines a person’s entire future, allowing little or no social mobility based on individual effortThe traditional Indian system identifies four major castes; Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and SudraA caste system determines the direction of a person’s lifeA caste system demands that people marry others of the same rankingSociologists call the pattern of marrying within a social category endogamous marriageCates guides everyday life by keeping people in the company of “their own kind”Caste system rest an powerful cultural beliefsCaste system are typical of agrarian societies because agriculture demands a lifelong routine of hard work Caste system ensures that people are disciplined for a lifetime of work and are willing to perform the same jobs as their parentsAnother country dominated by caste is South Africa, although the system of apartheid, or separation of the races, is no longer legal and is now in declineClass system: social stratification based on both birth and individual achievementMeritocracy: social stratification based on personal merit Stratification is based not just on the accident of birth but also merit which included a person’s knowledge, abilities, and effortStatus consistency: degree of uniformity in a person’s social standing across various dimensions of social inequalityThe mix of caste and meritocracy in class systems is well illustrated by the United KingdomIn the Middle Ages, England had a castelike aristocracy, including the leading clergy and hereditary nobilityToday’s British class system mixes caste and meritocracy, producing a highly stratified society with some social mobility
Ashley Wilson Introduction to Society In the Middle Ages, Japan had a rigid caste system in which an imperial family ruled over nobles and commonersToday’s Japanese class system still places great importance on family background and traditional gender rolesAlthough the Russian Revolution in 1917 attempted to abolish social classes, the new Soviet Union was still stratified based on unequal job categories and the concentration of power in the new political eliteStructural social mobility: a shift in the social position of large numbers of people due more to changes in society’s itself than to individual effortsSince the collapse of the soviet union in the early 1990s, the forces of structural social mobility have turned downward and the gap between rich and poor has increased Economic reforms introduced after the communist revolution in 1949 including state control of factories and productive property greatly reduced economic inequality, although social differences remainedIn the last thirty years, China’s govt. has loosened control of the economy, causing the emergence of new class of business owners and an increase in economic inequality Ideology: Supporting Stratification Ideology: cultural belief that justify particular social arrangements, including patterns of inequalityGreek philosopher Plato stated every culture considers some type of inequality justMarx criticized capitalist societies for defending wealth and power in the hands of a few as “a law of the marketplace”Capitalist law defines the right to own property and ensures that money stay within the same families from one generation to the nextMarx concluded, culture and institutions combine to support a society’s eliteWith the rise of industrial capitalism, an ideology of meritocracy emerges, defining wealth and power as prizes to be won by the individuals who perform the best Explaining Stratification: Structural- functional theory Davis-Moore thesis: the functional analysis claiming that social stratification has beneficial consequences for the operation of societyAccording to Davis and Moore the greater the functional importance of a position, the more rewards a society attaches to itDavis-Moore thesis suggests the reason stratification exists; it does not state what rewards a society should give to any occupational position or how equal the rewards should be Explaining stratification: Social-conflict theories social conflict analysis argues that rather than benefiting society as a whole, social stratification benefits some people and disadvantages othersKarl Marx explained that most people have one of two basic relationships to the means of production: they either own productive property or labor for othersMarx explained that capitalist society reproduces the class structure in each new generationRalf Dahrendorf suggested four reasons why industrial workers not overthrown capitalism:
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