Chapter 10 Social Stratification
Chapter 10 Social Stratification 1101
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Date Created: 03/09/16
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 well Takes two general forms: caste systems and class systems Caste and class systems Closed systems which allows for little change in social position Open systems which permit much more social mobility Closed systems are called caste systems Open systems are class systems Caste 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 effort The traditional Indian system identifies four major castes; Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Sudra A caste system determines the direction of a person’s life A caste system demands that people marry others of the same ranking Sociologists call the pattern of marrying within a social category endogamous marriage Cates guides everyday life by keeping people in the company of “their own kind” Caste system rest an powerful cultural beliefs Caste 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 parents Another 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 decline Class system: social stratification based on both birth and individual achievement Meritocracy: 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 effort Status consistency: degree of uniformity in a person’s social standing across various dimensions of social inequality The mix of caste and meritocracy in class systems is well illustrated by the United Kingdom In the Middle Ages, England had a castelike aristocracy, including the leading clergy and hereditary nobility Today’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 commoners Today’s Japanese class system still places great importance on family background and traditional gender roles Although 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 elite Structural social mobility: a shift in the social position of large numbers of people due more to changes in society’s itself than to individual efforts Since 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 remained In 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 inequality Greek philosopher Plato stated every culture considers some type of inequality just Marx 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 next Marx concluded, culture and institutions combine to support a society’s elite With 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 society According to Davis and Moore the greater the functional importance of a position, the more rewards a society attaches to it Davis-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 others Karl Marx explained that most people have one of two basic relationships to the means of production: they either own productive property or labor for others Marx explained that capitalist society reproduces the class structure in each new generation Ralf Dahrendorf suggested four reasons why industrial workers not overthrown capitalism: Ashley Wilson Introduction to Society 1. Fragmentation of the capitalist class 2. A higher standard of living 3. More worker organizations 4. Greater legal protections Max Weber claimed that social stratification involves three distinct dimensions of inequality; economic inequality, status, and power Socioeconomic status: composite ranking based on various dimensions of social inequality Explaining Stratification: symbolic-interaction theory Conspicuous consumption: buying and using products because of the “statement” they make about social position Stratification is a factor that guides people’s interactions in everyday life In most communities, people interact primarily with others of about the same social standing Social stratification and technology: A Global perspective With simple technology, members of hunting and gathering societies produce only what is necessary for day-to-day living In horticultural and pastoral societies, a small elite control must of the surplus Industrial productivity also raises the living standards of the historically poor majority Greater inequality is functional for agrarian societies, but industrial societies benefit from a more equal system Social stratification: Facts and values People beliefs about social inequality reflect not just facts but also politics and values concerning how a society should be organized
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