Social Stratification: Week 2
Social Stratification: Week 2
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Date Created: 04/10/14
Week 2 Tuesday April 8 2014 Is inequality Natural Functional andor Inevitable Think about this ALWAYS Who39s interests are at stake Look at the money But remember not all interests are about money Recap Social inequality 0 Not simply about social differentiation related to but not the same thing Difference does not imply hierarchy 0 Important resources rewards and privileges are unequally distributed in a social system Also opportunities to get these resources rewards and privileges Some schools don39t offer a lot of AP courses 9 unequal opportunities to pursue the resource ie resource of getting into college taking an AP course 0 Or related distributions of opportunities to access these are unequally distributed Stratification o Inequality that has become institutionalized 0 System of relationships expectations and taken for granted explanations for why who gets what in society 0 When inequalities become crystalizedhardeneddifficult to shake up or change Dimensions of inequality in the US today Income inequality 0 Highly salient 0 Money talks 0 Top 20 o make 50 of the total income 0 Bottom 20 makes only 3 of total income 0 Very very high level of income inequality which has gotten much worse in the last 40 years 0 To what extent are these inequalities related to differentiation Gender class race of most interest Correlation between income inequality and race is very strong Culturelife stylestatus o Wealth does not elite 0 Economic resources may be correlated with other kinds of assets but the other assets are not reducible to economic differences 0 Culture is not reducible to your economic position in America today Recap Stratification Systems Institutional processes define some goods as valuable Rules exist for allocating these goods Mechanisms routinely link individuals to positions in a social structure Recap Parameters of Stratification Systems 0 Overall level of inequality Rigidity of system ie lack of mobility Ascription levels used in allocation Social closure the extent to which the dimension s of inequality are correlated Conundrum So is inequality somehow natural Or at least inevitable Perhaps inequality is good or at least somehow it works for producing collective good If so then stratification systems grow from some objective necessity and should be embraced Inequality as natural People dominant one another and the naturally strongest and smartest individuals get ahead Species arise from competition for resources We cannot explain much by saying that people are inherently here to dominate one another 0 Doesn39t even hold up to the facts for primates We often don39t have a good view of what nature is We have socially constructed what natural means and reimported it to explain social inequality What happens in nature is very complicated o Domination of one another is not nature When people say something is natural or evolutionary they don39t understand nature or Darwin very well Society has intentionally simplified what natural selection actually is 0 We explain it as big ape dominating the little apes and dominating the female apes and reproducing 0 Very masculine male view NOT the way it happens in naturally 0 To say it is natural is a form of legitimation A way of explaining to legitimizemake sense of the story Social Darwinism was a way to legitimate racism Dominance in Nature Dominance in nature is complicated and partly social not purely physical o A sociology of animals Social learning observing dominance interactions affects understandings of social structure Submission pecking orders 0 Some animals lower their heads to show submission in a dominance display 0 Sometime displays are more ritual than others cows vs chickens o Biggest strongest chickens are not at top of pecking order Big chicken may sometimes bow head in submission Dominance in less complex human groups What about kids 0 Sort of like watching primitive humans maybe 0 Sometimes produce dominance orders summer camp It not about strength domination or resources Inequality does not always manifest among kids 0 But dominant kids aren39t necessarily popular or have certain o observable superior qualities What about less developed societies 0 No tend to suppress dominance o If inequality is truly natural we would see it most clearly in less developed societies Because for the last 80000 years we lived in those societies So these societies should show lots of inequality with one group of people dominating others and taking the surplus if that is natural and what it means to be human ie Onka 392 Throw a party for another village Must cajole tribe into giving away yams pigs money tools etc as much as they can get After a few years throw a huge party for next village and give away this stuff 2 Tribe leader is not strong or dominant but a good conversationalist 2 Not dominating each other Sois inequality natural No Is inequality Functional Organismic metaphor 0 Society is like an organism parts functioning to support the whole Some parts are more valuable like head is more valuable than a hand Humans have a lot more differentiation than say starfish If society has differentiation then does inequality make us more productive 0 People are inherently full of desires and have no natural way to put an end to these 0 Inequality serves a purpose to maintain order and stability Hobbes 0 Society is A social contract in which we exchange our freedom for security People are inherently greedy and we have no capacity on our own to stop our desires and its only society that supplies and end point with rules and punishments or we would all kill each other A war of all against all Hobbes theory Rousseau 0 Society is Loss of freedom Human nature as malleable 2 What makes us want stuff is society the creation of private property which we did not have for the vast majority of human history 2 If it is a war of all against all how did we get so many people 2 How did we prosper so if we were busy trying to dominate and kill each other No we were fruitful and multiplied and had many resources It is society which imposes its will on us and makes us petty and dependent creatures but that is not our nature 2 Society has made our nature dependent on things like money Functional inequality Inequality motivates If all positions were equally valued would there be motivation to move up in society to become surgeons etcetera People rise up to discover their true talents when they are motivated Some people aren39t smart enough to be a surgeon so need to be another part of the body like picking fruit in fields which we need but is not as valued such as relationship between hand and head on body BUT is it right Functionalism has MASSIVE problems The Davis Moore theory 1940s Inequality is functional and ubiquitous Elements of the theory 0 O 0 Certain positions are more important than others Just like the body can39t live without a head society can39t live without positions of authority president gov doctors as more important than farm workers and garbage collectors Only some people have the talents needed for these positions Talent becomes training and involves sacrifice You may have talent but must be trained for these valuable positions This training involves sacrifice time money opportunity costs To incentivize this sacrifice rewards must be greater These rights and rewards are built into the positions This unequal distribution is inequality institutionalized Ie stratification Ergo stratification is functional Coming from Hobbes The critique of Davis Moore Tumin Certain positions are more important than others 0 O O 0 Really How did you figure that out Do you mean in the short term or long term Is there really a way to weigh this all out Are you sure positions aren39t more important because those who hold them have made them so First people in careers usually don39t need the training that later people do Too many people want to become doctor for example so must make it a scarcer position harder to attain Only some have talents needed for theses O O Hmm This isn39t entirely separate from the first point One must assume that there is a natural component here some folks are just born more talented But can this really explain it all And doesn39t stratification by definition cover some peoples talents and showcase others talents Yes there are differences in talent But these differences may be a LOT smaller than we think There is way too much talent out there to be utilized by the narrow pipeline Why is it so hard to become a doctor We need more doctors 2 NO social closure in a profession it would drive down doctors renown and pay Talent becomes training and involves sacrifice To incentivize Ego stratification is functional 0 It seems just as easy to think of various dysfunctions arising form stratification Thursday April 10 2014 Major Theories of Stratification Conflict Class so far Conceptualizing our dependent variable dimensions of inequality Making the case that our independent variables are social and Today Hobbes not natura II orfunc onal Continuing to confront the simple answers of functionality and inevtab ty Introducing broader conflict explanations Society is o A social contract in which we exchange our freedom for securty o Inequality is good and functional for society 0 Society fails to exist without inequality Functionalism Durkheim Organismic metaphor 0 Society is like an organism parts functioning to support a whole 0 Conflict as lack of social integration 0 People are inherently full of desires and have no natural way to put an end 0 these Society as the basis for order All parts are important but some are not as important as others We will always want more we cannot reach a stage in which we have enoughwill be satisfied The horizon of desire is an ever receding one Only society can give us the roles and identities and position to know what is enough for us Freedom is being bossed around by society and accepting tha that is right Davis Moore theory 1940s Inequality is functional and ubiquitous We should embrace inequality Critique of Davis Moore Tumin Certain positions are more important than others 0 O O O 0 Really How did you figure that out Do you mean in the short term or long term Is there really a way to weigh this all out Are you sure positions aren39t more important because those who hold them have made them so First people in careers usually don39t need the training that later people do Too many people want to become doctor for example so must make it a scarcer position harder to attain Certain positions are more important than others 0 O O 0 Really How did you figure that out Do you mean in short term or long term Is there really a way to weigh this all out Are you sure positions aren39t more important because those who hold them have made them so If there were more doctors wages would level outgo down 2 American medical association limits number of doctors Harder and harder to get into medical school Justification its good to have it more exclusive because it makes the doctors who get in better 0 If we open it up there will be more doctors and better health care for you and me 2 Always follow the interestwho s interest is at stake here Doctors The AMA 392 The government and AMA work together Professional closure 2 When group of people in a profession get control over the pipeline and get government to be part of that Doctors have a very high degree of professional closure Lawyers as well 0 American BAR association has similar control over law schools So how much is a position being naturally more important than others or people creating this Only some have talents needed for theses O O This isn39t entirely separate from the first point Largely assumes a natural component here some folks are born more talented Doesn39t stratification by definition obscure some peoples talents and showcase others talents We may be favoring mediocre people who were born here over extraordinary people who came here to get on top maybe illegally We really don39t know the naturalness of being a doctor Stratification shines a light on certain people and obscures certain people by definition Assumes that those who are more privileged are more likely to have it and those who aren39t privileged are less likely to have it Talent becomes training and involves sacrifice 0 True or legitimation o How much sacrifice Privileged are ale to defer income and generally have considerable family support how is that sacrifice Sacrifice as in lost opportunity costs doesn39t make sense either considering high returns to educa on o What about all the rewards that come with training The privilege and pleasure of personal growth Lots of beer and friends To incentivize this sacrifice rewards must be greater 0 Are material rewards all that motivate people Money is not everything People who just pursue money are not happy 0 How about joy and craft and service 0 Thus the following point is also highly suspect These rights and rewards are built into the positions as greater prestige salary amble leisure etc This unequal distribution is inequality institutionalized ie stratification 0 Why is this unavoidable o The only things that need to be unequally distributed for the social system to function are the power and property needed to perform different tasks Some people need more authority some less some more access to tools some less Money not necessarily needs to unequal Ergo stratification is functional 0 It seems just as easy to think of various disfunctions arising from stratification They limit the possibility of discovering full range of talent 2 Limits range of talent that is actually being discovered 2 Ie Gwenyth Paltrow got where she is because of who she is she is taking the place of a better actress Also happens with doctors lawyers etc Many people go into field because of family they have opportunity but they are not jazzed 9 not as good This limits the expansion of possible innovations and productivity in society Produce conservative ideologies that keep societies from changing in ways that could more productive efficient etc 2 People who graduate Harvard with best are those who got lowest on aptitude test and barely got in Took full advantage of the experience 0 So if we kept the gate open and actually let people in maybe we would find more talent o If let more people into med school maybe they would work the hardest and take full advantage Damages peoples sense of self and purpose 2 Damages people emotionally 2 Stigmatization 2 Distrust disloyalty Breeds hostility suspicion distrust possible disloyalty to the society and apathy Societies with more inequality have more problems even than societies which are just poor Inequality gives rise to lots of social problems Inequality can generate Social problems Hostility and unrest Inequality as inevitable We need to look at the big arc of human history 0 Long term changes in inequality 0 Different societies Varieties of human stratification systems Inequality in recent human history less than 1 o of our time here Inequality has increased and has only recently decreased After pharaohs etc inequality starts to decrease 0 Kings but not nearly as powerful as pharaohs Archeological evidence shows inequality really only becomes prominent with the rise of agriculture 0 Increasing technology prosperity population growth 0 Suggests that Rousseau was more correct if life was so bad before society how did we ever prosper enough to settle down 0 Surplus creates inequality Types of stratification systems Primitive communalism 0 Mode of production to use Marx39s term is huntinggathering o Nomadic No property surplus is divided among members 0 Led by chiefsbig menetc Achieved by status No real authority 2 Chief cannot tell you what to do and make you do it 0 Not chiefdom by birth Very little stratification 70000 years of human history before the rest Hunting and gathering horticulture Status was not generally achieved by dominating people 0 Resources often shared Slave 0 Agricultural societies 0 Captured conquered peoples 0 Sometimes earned their freedom Roman slaves sometimes became quite powerful o Legitimated in law and ideology 0 Much more like what we saw in Ancient Egypt 0 You conquered people and then owned them OOOO o Rigid hierarchy of groups based upon ascription Rigid very little fluidity o Deeply institutionalized in religion 0 Higher degree of acceptance across castes than other ascriptive systems People of lower castes are more accepting Estate Feudalism 0 Europe in the middle ages Peasants belonged to the land owned by a noble At first legitimated by tradition then law Religion the Roman Catholic Church played a major role Class based 0 Complex division of labor 0 Equality of opportunity not simply equality o Meritocratic o Evolutionary survival of the fittest legitimation o Schooling in America as tournament These systems Vary in terms of ascription achievement as basis for rank Vary in how stratification is legitimated explained made natural 0 Customtradition o Ideological based on qualities of those on top 0 Legal bureaucratic Natural and Functional explanations Is inequality natural 0 Probably not depends on what you mean by natural OOO o Hierarchies of status and prestige occur in all human societies but are often totally unrelated to the unequal distribution of vital resources Is inequality functional 0 If so then how much 0 Maybe impossible to test but seems more like another form of legitimation 0 Most sociologists don39t entertain functionalism because there is no way to test it Is inequality inevitable 0 Evidence suggests not o Highly variable over time and across otherwise similar societies How then do we make sense of this variation 0 What are the main mechanisms for generating inequality Why do things change over time What are some broadly generalizable social explanations Rousseau Society is 0 Loss of freedom 0 Human nature as malleable o Inequality is not natural or in our nature It is social we do it and we can change it Inequality by design Societies create and sustain inequality 0 Does not mean conscious design but peoples behaviors and interests how they come together as groups is what creates and sustains inequality 0 Not so much about inherent differences between people 0 Inequalities and their justification serve the interests of those who have historically garnered greater fortune and power Perhaps due to random and small advantages long long ago
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