soc 100 ch 10.docx

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22 Mar 2012
Chapter 10: Social Stratification
What is Social Stratification
A society that ranks people by hierarchy
Based on four principles
1. Trait of society not simply a reflection of individual difference : class and the number of
opportunities one has is based ( largely) on what class you are born into
2. Social Stratification carries on from one generation to another: certainly there is room for social
3. Social Stratification is universal but variable: inequality is everywhere but exactly what is unequal and
how it is unequal is different from society to society
4. Social stratification involves not just inequality but beliefs as well
Caste and Class System
Sociologists distinguish between closed and open systems
Caste system ( closed) Class system ( open)
Caste System
Social stratification based on birth or ascription
Allows for no or little social mobility
Ex. India
Four major castes ( Varna): Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra
Each cast performs a type of work
Marry within casts ( endogamous) and is usually arranged when still children
People are supposed to be hanging out with people of their own caste
Build on cultural beliefs
Caste systems are typical of agrarian cultures and they are schooled into wanting to do the same jobs as
their parents
People living in industrial areas however have more choice than agrarian societies
Class System
Social stratification based on birth and individual achievement
People inter marry
More choice over life as well as marriage partner
Social stratification based on how well someone does and how much effort they put into their job
In such a society there is constant social mobility as it depends on a person's later work
Caste systems define merit as how dutiful someone is to their work - it wastes human potential but are
Class systems keep both the order of the caste system ( passing wealth on from one generation to another)
and some of the Merit system
Pure Meritocracy would weaken family ties
Status consistency
The degree of someone's consistency In someone's social standing - ranking high or low on all three
dimensions of social class (Weber's class, status and power)
Caste system = high Status consistency no social mobility
Class System= low status consistency
Classes are much harder to define than castes
Caste and Class: The United Kingdom
Mix of meritocracy and Caste
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Aristocratic England
In the middle ages England had an aristocratic caste like system
First estate was the church consisting of church officials who lived in great wealth
The Second estate was the nobles who made up about 5% of the population
Incredibly wealthy because of land owning
Had many servants
Did not need to work so they took up other skills (horse back riding, military)
Primogeniture : first born male gets everything ( wealth)
Third estate: everyone else
With the industrial revolution, people were starting to get more money in their hands and were able to
challenge the noble's power
Also an emphasis on rights and education blurred class lines
United Kingdom Today
Still have a monarch
But are a class system
Small group of aristocrats still experience the best schools offered
Class distinction is marked by accent
Oldest monarchy
Aristocratic Japan
By 5 CE Japan was an agrarian society
They were a strict caste system
Emperor and the imperial family: ruled by divine right
Shogun : military that enforced the emperor's rule
Samurai who were the warrior caste: lived with absolute loyalty to the nobility
Commoners who worked hard to survive
Burakumin ( outcasts) looked down on by everyone and did the jobs that were considered disgraceful
Modern Japan
1860 the nobles realized that they needed to take their country forward in the industrial age
1870 the outcaste was banned as a caste
After WW2 the nobility was banned and the emperor had no real power
Today Japan is class system
They do respect tradition and so it is there when sizing someone up
All equal on paper not so much in real life
Gender inequality
The Classless Society: The Former Soviet Union
Some societies claim to be classless
The Russian Revolution
Born out of Karl Marx's theory that social inequality was born out of private ownership
Before this they were an aristocratic society
Reality the Russian people were in 4 different groups:
Apparatchiks: highest levels of officials
Intelligentsia: Professors, scientists, physicians , engineers
Manual workers
Rural Peasantry
Putting factories and such under one control did create equality but not classless
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