Discuss Is Socila Stratification Functional

Topics: Sociology, Social class, Social stratification Pages: 8 (2641 words) Published: December 8, 2010
Sociology gives us an in depth insight into social stratification and how it effects our lives. We as individuals are social beings who are ranked in categories within the hierarchy of society, but within our society we have the means to progress up the hierarchy and become part of the elite. Social inequalities are functional for the elite as they are the ones with the power and control over us as we are socially controlled. Social stratification affects the way we think about life. If were born in Ethiopia you would be illiterate and you would expect the same from your children. You would not be surprised when your children died young. Social stratification is a system in which groups of people are divided into layers according to their relative power, property, and prestige. It is a way of ranking large groups of people into a hierarchy according to their relative privileges. Every society stratifies its members. Some societies have greater inequality than others, but social stratification is universal and can vary due to gender, age and ability

When we look at the social stratification system we must take into consideration the five key features: Social stratification is a characteristic of society, not just a reflection of individual differences. Social stratification persists over generations.

Social stratification is universal but variable.
Beliefs are central to social stratification.
Social stratification engenders shared identities.

We will also need to explore ‘Open and Closed’ stratification. In describing social stratification in particular societies sociologists (Tumin, 1985) often stress degrees of social closure and mobility that is allowed in the society ‘Closed’ systems allow little change in social position, while ‘Open’ systems permits some mobility. ‘Open stratification social class gives us some degree of social mobility Saunders (1990) believes that Britain is a true meritoracrcy because rewards naturally go to the most able. Saunders uses data from the National Child Development study to show that children who are bright and hard working will succeed regardless of social advantages they experience some misunderstanding. ‘Closed’ stratification refers to systems where social position is ascribed at birth and various social institutes reinforce the stratification system and there is little opportunity to change position ie: The Caste system (Giddens) is extremely elaborate and varies in its structure from area to area, so much so that it does not really constitute diversity of varying beliefs and practices.

Through out our lives we will be confronted with certain types of social stratification in our everyday lives within certain cultures and societies therefore we need to explore the Functionalist approach and the Marxists Approach. Like the functionalists, Marxists agree that education is functional in that it maintains the dominance of certain powerful groups in society. Unlike the functionalists, however, Marxists do not believe that it works for the benefit of all. Instead Marxists argue that the education system sustains one small group’s ideas about appropriate forms of schooling and assumptions about what knowledge is. The system also maintains different levels of access to knowledge for different groups and thereby prohibits the widespread dissemination of knowledge to everyone. From a functionalist perspective, the main parts of society (its institutions such as education, religion and the family) are the foundations for social structure. These institutions have interconnected roles and interrelated norms to form a complete system. All of the institutions have a role to meet the functional prerequisites (society’s basic needs). Integration between the parts is necessary so therefore integration is a functional prerequisite in itself. Social relations are organized, in result of values providing general guidelines for behavior.

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