Social Stratification

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Gregory Sarksian
Sociology 101 (Pulliam)
12/5/2012
America’s Caste System

As this sociology course comes to an end, I’ve gotten a broader idea of not only who I am in this society, but also where I belong in this society. What this class allowed me to realize is that I was given an opportunity that other sperm cells were not. Why was I lucky enough to be the son of a successful certified public accountant, and the same for everyone else in my inner circle of friends? How was it decided that I would come out of my mother’s womb, with a future filled with only success, and me being my only enemy. I have never encountered a hardship anywhere near what someone born and 50th and Normandie has. This is what has become of the “land of opportunity,” yet there is not much opportunity available just because of the location of the hospital a person is born in.

The idea of a caste system, originally presented in ancient India, is a type of social structure that divides people on the basis of inherited social status. Although many societies could be described in this way, within a caste system, people are rigidly expected to marry and interact with people of the same social class. The roots of the Indian caste system can be found in the Hindu scriptures, although the caste system was adopted by other religions in India as well. According to scripture, Indian caste system was basically broken down into a pyramid type society with four level including, the Brahmins, the highest caste, were scholars and priests, while Kshatriya were warriors, rulers, and landlords. The Vaisya were merchants, while Sudra were manual laborers. Beyond there four basis Varnas are the Untouchables, and the system also has a space for outsiders and foreigners who do not conform to the system. From birth, a caste system determined the direction of a person’s life. A caste system basically guided the everyday life of normalcy within the ranks of people of their own kind. Status remained consistent through birth, so moving up within the caste system was virtually impossible which illustrates a moral duty to whichever rank one belonged to within their caste system.

In the American version of the caste system, what one is born into holds a mighty sustainment on said person’s future schooling, occupation, and income. As inheriting riches help the wealthy, the inheritance of the poor keeps them well below the poverty line. Another thing that comes into play determining the American caste system is race and ethnicity. Statistics show that white people receive more schooling than African Americans, Latin Americans, and so on, solely based on their salary. This goes to show that a the higher paid salary of a non-Hispanic white family could allow them to actually buy homes in a better locations for their child or children to prosper educationally. The last thing that is associated with determining ranks within the caste system of America is gender. It is a world-renounced fact that males have more income, wealth, and occupational prestige than women do. Which statistics go to prove, that single parent families headed by women are more likely to be poor than a male at the stead. These factors all directly and indirectly lead to the social stratification of what can become of a capitalistic society, such as the United States.

In the United States, just like there was in India, there is also a four layer ranking system within the pyramid of our “caste” system. As the Indian caste system had the Brahmins at the top of the pyramid, the American caste system has a more socially acceptable term for it referred to as the “upper” class, who make up a miniscule five percent of the United States population. This is the class of leisure wealth and all-star status. It’s where our CEOs, professional athletes, Hollywood actors, mainstream musicians, Congressmen and Senators reside. These are the people the rest of us write about, read about, watch on TV, and emulate in...
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