Social Stratification

Topics: Social class, Sociology, Social stratification Pages: 5 (1663 words) Published: October 14, 2014
Social stratification defines any structure of inequality that persists in a society across generations. Social strata are groups of people — who belong to the same social class or have the same social level. Social strata are organised in a vertical hierarchy. In the early societies people shared a common social standing. In the hunting and gathering societies there was little stratification: men hunted for meat while women gathered edible plants. The general welfare of the society depended on the mutual sharing of goods between all members and no group emerged as better off than the others.

Social inequality began with the emergence of horticulture and pastoral societies. For the first time people had reliable sources of food and the population increased. Not all members of the societies needed to be involved in the production of food and people were free to choose their occupation. In the agriculture societies that followed, the division of labour resulted in job specialisation where people valued certain jobs more than others. The industrial revolution that started in the 18th century further differentiated people according to their wealth and occupation.

Social stratification can be organised in terms of class, gender, race and ethnicity, age or disability. Social classes based on the economic differences between groups in terms of income and wealth, possession of material goods, occupation and status. This type of stratification is and open system. People are born in a certain class but can move up or down between the different layers. This change of class is called social mobility. People I higher social classes have better access to health, better education, housing and work conditions.

There are two main theories about the formation of classes and the class conflict, the Marxist and the functionalist. The Marxist theory was created in the early to mid 19th century by the German philosophers Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895). According to the Marxist theory, class is related to the ownership of the means of production. In the capitalist system, the ruling class owns the means of production. This includes the working class, which has only its own labor of offer in order to survive,

The functionalist theory was created in the 20th century by the American sociologists Kingsley Davis (1908-1997) and Wilbert Moore (1914-1987). The functionalists believe that the classes are necessary to make society effective. According to this theory, a certain number of tasks with a different level of complexity must be accomplished in any society. Those who perform the difficult tasks are entitled to more power, prestige and money.

Social stratification based on race and ethnicity is underpinned by differences determined by the genetic and cultures of groups. Sociologists claim that differences between races are minor and this type of stratification is social. The stratification based on ethnicity results in treatment of groups of people with prejudices and discrimination, giving them different life chances. Unequal life chances can include income, housing, health and employment.

Age stratification could lead to different social status. In some societies older people have higher social status, while in other countries they are considered to be of less value compared to youngsters. Disability stratification is based on physical disadvantages. People with physical disabilities can suffer discrimination in a number of areas.

There are many examples of the injustice of social stratification in our history. The story I am going to tell today has been told many times. It has been made into a classic movie, the story of the unsinkable ship Titanic, this romantic movie is a favourite among movie goers, lovers, and critics and just about everyone. Sadly, the story, the real story on the sinking of the Titanic and of those who survived is an example of the social stratification and how unjust this...
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