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Robert Brym (148)

Social Stratification I

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University of Toronto St. George
Robert Brym

SOC101 Nov. 17/2010 Social Stratification I Seemingly something about the structure of society that leads to inequality Under some circumstances, class differences can be insignificant Social Stratification: Layering of society into different classes of people Davis & Moore Suggest that some jobs are more important than others (judge is more important than a janitor because a judge contributes more to society than a janitor does; in order to become a judge; one must go through a great deal of training & sacrifice a lot– pay a lot of money, forego income & pleasure) To motivate people to sacrifice a lot to become judges, etc., you offer them more money High level of inequality is necessary in society, if you don’t offer people rewards for certain jobs than no one will being to do these important jobs, thus society will not function Social stratification has beneficial consequences; w/o it the most talented people would not have the incentive to become doctors, lawyers, etc. Attack of the Class-Specific Killer Virus For ex. There is a virus that kills all the doctors, & the farmers survive The society is thus less well off w/o doctors to treat them (can’t become doctors overnight) On the other hand, if the virus kills off all of the farmers, & the doctors don’t become farmers then they will starve Suggests that the society cannot survive w/o farmers, however they can survive w/o doctors but not in such an elevated state One class is more important than the other, but it’s not the class that you think (not the doctors) None of the esteemed jobs that exist today would be possible w/o the jobs that were done by the “less” important classes What is an important job? Through the ages, governments & religious authorities used taxes & tides; then they would use force to extract items of value from the broad population The surpluses (tax, tides) extracted from the peasants were used to create universities, sustain the aristocracy, the church, etc People always made enough to sustain themselves as well as surplus to sustain societies Criticisms of Functional Theory 1) Other problems with the functional theory of stratification emphasizes how inequality helps to discover talent; this obscures the fact that there is a pool of talent that lies undiscovered because of inequality. Inequality in society is responsible for not discovering those who are talented. 2) Fails to examine how advantages are passed from one generation to the next Talent is not the only thing that leads one to be well to do, ignores that some of these advantages are passed on People can inherit substantial amounts of wealth w/o having any talent, going to university, working hard, etc There is a story that isn’t just about talent & hard work, if you look at the histories of wealthy people you often see that they are well to do Davis & Moore largely ignore inheritance Karl Marx Class defined by a person’s relationship to the means of production Inequality is unnecessary; society will inevitably evolve into a state in which there is equality Sources of changes are two-fold: society’s class structure & technological basis Marx suggested that trade unions & political parties would become so powerful & enraged by the conditions in which they have to work, eventually overthrowing the capitalists & take ownership of the industries (people receive an income, etc., according to what they need rather than who their parents are) There will be crises of over-production & under-consumption; resulting in mass unemployment because people cannot consume it all Marx’s Theory of Stratification: 1. The abi
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