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Lecture

Stratification

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC 101
Professor
Rubin
Semester
Fall

Description
Soc 101 October 12, 2011 Stratification Stratification:  Definition: System through which individuals are grouped into categories, or strata, according to their social status  Strata- o Categories of people who are similar  Ascribed characteristics – given at birth  Gender, race, ethnicity  Achieved characteristics – acquire with age and experience  Education, occupation  Social Status o Position in society that is located in a particular social institution and associated with certain roles Types of Stratification Systems  Stratification system o Definition: Relatively fixed, hierarchical arrangement in which groups have different access to resources, power, and perceived self worth. o A system of structured inequality  Estate systems o Ownership of property and exercise of power is monopolized by an elite group  E.g. feudal systems  Caste systems o Location in the stratification system is determined by an ascribed status (what you are born into) o Rigid hierarchy of classes – very clear delineation between classes o Formal law and culture practice prevent movement between classes  E.g. India, South African apartheid, southern U.S. Jim Crow laws  Class systems o Location in stratification is influenced by ascribed status and achieved status o Boundaries between classes are imprecisely defined – no distinct line o Movement between classes is possible (upward mobility can be difficult) o Position is influenced by the social background of your family – most people end up in social class they grew up in  In all systems o Social class  Structural position groups hold relative to the resources of economy, such as:  Economic (money available, welfare)  Social  Political (ability to participate in political process, actually have power)  Cultural (understanding of material and nonmaterial, ability to participate in “high” culture events like ballet, opera, sports)  Influences “life chances and choices”  Access to opportunities  Quality of everyday life  Ability to successfully enact individual agency Perspectives on Stratification  Why is there inequality?  Why does inequality exist?  Karl Marx (1818-1883) o Analyzed the class system in capitalist o Defined classes by their relationship to the “means of production”  “Means of production” – system by which goods are produced and distributed o 2 main classes  “Bourgeoisie” = capitalist class (producing material goods that are being sold)  “Petty bourgeoisie” – smaller business owners, middle management, interests (being invested in capitalism) are aligned with “bourgeoisie”  “Proletariat” = working class, sell physical/manual labor for wages  “Lumpenproletariat” – portion of proletariat that cannot work (too old, too sick, want to be able to sell labor but physically can’t) o The capitalist class maximized profits by exploiting workers o Over time, profits become increasingly concentrated among a smaller portion of capitalists o Class struggle  Revolution  Reasons revolution might not occur  Rise of the middle class – begin to identify with capitalists and are happy with their class position  Political power of labor unions  False consciousness – the working class and middle class don’t recognize exploitation or they recognize it and accept it. Overestimate chances of upward mobility. Don’t want to undermine the system because they don’t want to undermine their chances of moving
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