Social Stratification

Topics: Sociology, Social class, Marxism Pages: 8 (2466 words) Published: January 1, 2013
Do you believe that there is Social Inequality? What is then Social Inequality? Social Inequality – describes a condition in which members of a society have different amounts of wealth, prestige, or power. One form of Social Inequality is Social Stratification.

Social stratification – when a system of social inequality is based on a hierarchy (any systems of persons or things where one is ranked above another) of groups. * A structured ranking of entire groups of people that perpetuates unequal economic rewards and power in a society. In our report, we will focus on Social Stratifications and its consequences. Systems of Stratification

1. Slavery – the most extreme form of legalized social inequality for individuals or groups * Enslaved individuals are owned by other people
* This human beings are treated as property, just as if they were pets or appliances. 2. Castes – hereditary systems of rank, usually religiously dictated, that tend to be fixed and immobile. * Caste membership is established at birth; children automatically assume the same position as their parents. It generally determines one’s occupation or social roles. Example of a lower caste: Dons, whose main work is cremating bodies. * This type of system is mostly found in India. In India, there are four major castes, called VARNAS. A fifth category of outcastes, the UNTOUCHABLES, are considered to be so lowly and unclean as to have no place within this system of stratification. 3. Estates – was associated with feudal societies during the Middle Ages. * The estate system, or feudalism, required peasants to work land leased to them by nobles in exchange for military protection and other services. * The basis for the system was the nobles’ ownership of land, which was critical to their superior and privileged status. * It is also inherited.

4. Social Classes/Class System – a social ranking based primarily on economic position in which achieved characteristics can influence mobility (there is much greater movement from one stratum, or level, of society to another. Example: poor to rich) * It is also marked by unequal distribution of wealth and power. * Two types of status:

* Ascribed status – social position “assigned” to a person without regard for the person’s unique characteristics or talents. (example: daughter of a movie star = must be good at acting too; son of a convict = bad/dangerous/lowly) * Achieved status – a social position attained by a person largely through his or her own effort (winners of AIdol, AGTalent, etc) Karl Marx’s Perspective/View of Class Differentiation

* He focused on the plight of the working class and felt it imperative to strive for changes in the class structure of society. * He examined social relations within capitalism.
* Capitalism – an economic system in which the means of production are largely in private hands and the main incentive for economic activity is the accumulation of profits. * He focused on two classes:

1. Bourgeoisie AKA Capitalists – own the means of production, e.g. factories, machineries 2. Proletariat – working class
* In capitalist society, bourgeois maximize profit in competition with other firms. In the process, they tend to exploit (take advantage of) workers. Marx believed that exploitation of proletariat will inevitably lead to the destruction of the capitalist system. * But for this to happen, the working class must first develop class consciousness. * Class consciousness – a subjective awareness held by members of a class regarding their common vested interests and the need for collective political action bring about social change. * They must overcome what he called false consciousness.

* False consciousness – an attitude held by members of a class that does not accurately reflect its objective position. In other words, they feel that they are treated fairly even when they are not. *...
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