Social Stratification

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Social stratification is how individuals or groups of people are placed within society. They are placed within ‘layers’ or social strata’s in a hierarchy depending on their circumstances in life. It is a trait of society, not simply a reflection of individual differences. Individuals at the top of the hierarchy ‘the higher class’ have more advantages in life than those at the bottom of the hierarchy ‘the lower class’. The higher class have more opportunities to succeed in life, for example, due to wealth they may achieve academically, have better job prospects and have a more prosperous life than those in the lower class. Social stratification persists over generations. Each individual born into society is automatically allocated to a social strata. Their position is usually their parent’s position at that time. We are born with nothing therefore we ‘inherit’ what our parents have. Children are influenced by their family members. Every family within society and within each social strata have different ambitions, determinations and goals to succeed in life. A child will learn these through the accomplishments of their own parents. Although social stratification is universal it is also variable which means that all different countries have different forms of stratification but on which characteristic will vary between each country. In the United Kingdom it is very much a class system, whereas in some Indian countries they are stratified on their religion for example. Social stratification involves not just inequality but beliefs. Everybody within society has to believe the stratification to be fair; otherwise there would be a revolt. People placed at the top of the hierarchy have better life chances than those at the bottom of the hierarchy. Life chances include such things as conditions of work, health and housing. People at the top of the hierarchy may choose the area that they live in which will tend to have less crime, better schools and better living...
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