Ascribed status: A status that is bestowed upon an individual, regardless of his or
her efforts or wishes. In the United States, sex, race, and ethnicity are ascribed
Achieved status: A status earned by the individual through his or her own efforts.
In the United States, bank robber, college professor, carpenter, and husband are
Caste System: A completely closed system of stratification in which statuses are
inherited. One’s position in a caste system is based on ascribed characteristics.
Brahmans: Priests, seers, and philosophers
Kshatriyas: warriors, royalty, and administrators
Vaishyas: producers, merchants, farmers, artisans, and other skilled workers
Shudras: peasants and unskilled workers
Estate System: As in a caste system, a person’s place in the hierarchy of an estate
system is determined at birth.
First: Made up of the aristocracy or nobility
Second: Made up of the clergy
Third: Only included peasants
Stratification: A term borrowed from the earth sciences because it conveys the fact
that society is made up of social layers, or strata, that are arranged in hierarchy.
Legitmating rationale: Explanations for why social arrangements are right and
Marx’s Conception of Class: People in industrial society fell into one of two social
classes. The upper class was made up of the capitalists – those who owned the
means of production. The lower class was made up of workers who supported
themselves by selling their labor to the capitali