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Social Stratification Case sample essay

* Refers to the ranking individuals and groups in any given society * Tends to be transmitted from one generation to another
* Is the hierarchical arrangement and establishment of social categories that may evolve into social groups as well as of statuses and their corresponding roles
* May be viewed as a social structure, as a social process, or as a social problem

Basic Concepts of Inequality

1. Attributions – attributions play a very vital role in social stratification. It assigns to people different attributes as a result of differences 2. Stereotype – one assumes that persons who fall into a particular category on the basis of certain characteristics also have many characteristics that we assume to belong to that category 3. Self-fulfilling prophecies – once we categorize people through assigning a stereotype, our perception of their behavior if filtered through that stereotype 4. Self comparison – social scientist find that people need to compare themselves with others in order to establish for themselves what kind of people they are. 5. A fair world – related to the key of comparison in social life are beliefs about justice or the fair distribution of rewards. 6. Just world hypothesis – according to this, people like to believe that there is justice, that people get what they deserve.

Social Stratification System

* Differentiation refers to how things or people can be distinguished from one another. * Stratification refers to the ranking of things or people or objects.

Dimensions of Stratification

1. Wealth and income – the income of any family depends on what its members earn and what they own. 2. Inequalities of power – sociologists define power as the ability to control one’s life (personal power) and to control or influence the actions of others (social power). 3. Inequalities of prestige – prestige of individuals and groups may be defined as the social recognition that a person or group receives from others.

The Theories of Social Stratification

* The conflict theory – maintains that the result of the struggle among people for scarce rewards and that it persists in society because the “haves” are determined and equipped to preserve their advantage by dominating and exploiting the “have nots.” * Conflict theorists consider stratification unjust and unnecessary.

Karl Marx – believe that all history has been the story of class conflict over material privilege and power.

4 ways of distributing wealth

1. To each according to need – the basic needs of all the people are satisfied. 2. To each according to want – wealth is distributed according to what people desire and respect. 3. To each according to what is earned – people who live according to this system become themselves the source of their own wealth. 4. To each according to what can be taken – by using whatever means.

* The functionalist theory – Kingsley Davis elaborated the idea that stratification serves an important function in society. He was joined by Wilbert Moore.

Comparison of the two theories:

The Functionalist View The Conflict View

* Stratification is universal, necessary, and inevitable * Stratification facilitates the optimal functioning of society and the individual * Stratification is an expression of commonly shared values * Task and reward are equitably allocated * Stratification system generally change through evolutionary processes| * Stratification may be universal without being necessary and inevitable * Stratification impedes the optimal functioning of society and the individual * Stratification is an expression of the values of powerful groups * Tasks and rewards are inequitably allocated * Stratification system often change through revolutionary processes

Open and Closed System

* Open system – this is also known as a class system. It has a few impediments to social mobility. There is a difference between equality of opportunity and equality of results. * Closed system – this is also known as caste system. In the caste system, ascribed characteristics determine social position, and individuals’ opportunities are limited accordingly. * Estate system – it is a closed system stratification in which a person’s social position is based on ownership of land, birth, military strength.

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Methods of Determining Class Division

1. The subjective method – researchers using this method simply ask a random sample population to name the class they belong to. 2. The reputational method – the researchers select a small town and ask a number of residents to assist them in their study. 3. The objective method – the researchers divide people into social classes according to their income, occupation, education, and type of residence.

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