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Questions on Social Stratification

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Social Stratification

What is social stratification?

Stratification is a hierarchy of positions with regard to economic production which influences the social rewards to those in the positions.

What is class?

Class is large set of people regarded by themselves or others as sharing similar status with regard to wealth, power and prestige.

What are the major forms of stratification?

Primitive communalism characterized by a high degree of sharing and minimal social inequality. Slavery involving great social inequality and the ownership of some persons by others. Caste in which an individual is permanently assigned to a status based on his or her parents' status. Estate in which peasants are required by law to work land owned by the noble class in exchange for food and protection from outside attacks.

How do stratification systems differ?

Openness is the opportunity for individuals to change their status. Caste stratification systems are closed whereas class stratification systems are more open. The degree of equality is the degree to which the social structure approaches an equal distribution of resources. Hunting and gathering societies are typically very equal with inequality developing in later stages of agriculture and industrialization.

What are Weber's three dimensions of stratification?

Class or a set of people with similar amounts of income and wealth. Party or a set of people with similar amounts of power. Status group or a set of people with similar social prestige or positive regard from members of a society.

What are the five basic viewpoints on why stratification exists?

Natural inevitability which suggests that inequality exists because of natural differences in people's abilities and is a just system. Structural -functionalist which states that stratification is useful to society because it enhances stability and induces members of the society to work hard. Conflict which suggests that stratification occurs through conflict between different classes, with the upper classes using superior power to take a larger share of the social resources. Evolutionary which states that people will share enough resources to ensure the survival of the group until a surplus exists at which time power determines how the surplus is distributed. Symbolic Interactionist which calls attention to the importance of symbolic displays of wealth and power that influence one's definition of self and the importance of ideas in defining social situations.

In what regard is some stratification inevitable?

Inequality may emanate from natural differences in people's abilities.

What are the functionalist and conflict theories as to the reasons for stratification?

Structural-functionalists believe that societies tend to be stable and are held together through consensus.Stratifiction provides an important function to society by aiding this process because it lessens conflict and provides structure. Conflict theorists believe that society tends toward conflict and change and that stratification system coerce the lower classes in order to benefit the upper classes.

What are the basic premises of the evolutionary perspective?

In primitive societies the survival of the group is paramount and people will share their resources to ensure that the group survives. As society develops increasingly sophisticated technology, surplus exists and power will determine the distribution of the surplus.

How are the supporting beliefs symbolically important to a stratification system?

Symbolic Interactionists point out that symbols help to define the meaning of all social actions, and a person's self is developed socially through social interaction. Legitimating ideas, expressed symbolically in the form of language provide reasons for inequality for strata for the ways people are placed in the strata and for changes in the stratification system. These supporting ideas also strongly affect how people evaluate themselves within the system, influencing them to accept their position in the structure as good and right.

What is social mobility?

Social mobility is the movement of a person from one status to another, either between generations or within a person's adult career.

What is structural mobility?

Structural mobility is mobility brought about by changes in the stratification hierarchy for instance as society becomes more technologically advanced.