Stratification: Sociology and Social Structure

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What have been the major characteristics of changing patterns of stratification in the Caribbean? Show specific evidence to support your answer.

An egalitarian society is one in which no one is categorized as poor or rich, as all members are equal. However there is no such society! Persons can only dream that one day our society will be egalitarian, but the reality is, we live in a society based on class, exploitation, oppression, privilege and status and although the stratification in the Caribbean has changed slightly, it still exists. For Haralambos and Holborn (2004), stratification ‘refers to the presence of distinct social groups which are ranked one above the other in terms of factors such as prestige and wealth’. With accordance to this definition Mustapha describes social stratification as ‘structured social inequality’ which is the unequal distribution of wealth, power, prestige, opportunities and influences.

According to the view of Karl Marx, classes came about when the difference in income was so great that it enabled one group of people to exploit the labour of another. The exploiters were usually a small group of persons and the exploited, a large group with no property owning nothing, but their labour. This scenario of the rich exploiting the poor can be traced back to slavery days. The exploiters beings the plantation owners were white in race, and the slaves of African descent being the ones exploited. The pattern of stratification in the Caribbean, with the rich whites dominating the poor blacks has changed over the years. The closed society that was present during slavery was based solely on ascribed statuses which Mustapha describes as’ those that are fixed at birth and unchangeable during a persons lifetime. A persons’ race and sex are example of ascribed statuses. Feminist S, Firestone showed that sex-class system in which men belong to the dominant exploiter class and women, regardless of their economic situation, occupy the...
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