Topics: Social class, Sociology, Working class Pages: 10 (1382 words) Published: October 28, 2013
Monopoly in a Stratified Society

Introduction to Sociology
Fall Semester, 2013

Monopoly in a Stratified Society
Introduction to Sociology – Fall 2013

In an interactive lesson designed to illustrate the effects of social privilege within a class system, four individuals played two 60-minute games of the board game Monopoly. The purpose of the exercise is to provide students with an opportunity to observe multiple sociological concepts and apply learned theory to support the analysis and conclusion of their observations. The first round used traditional rules of play included with the commercial game. The second round rules, recording and reporting procedures and specific empirical methodology guidelines discussed herein are included in the Athens Technical College SOCI 1101 assignment instructions, Monopoly and Monopoly in a Stratified Society 2013, (p.18). The official rules of traditional Monopoly state, ‘the object of the game is to become the wealthiest player through buying, renting and selling property’. Childhood tradition and superstition wildly affect players’ individual strategies to dominate, yet early luck of the draw and roll of the dice typically determine the winner. Results included in Table I and Table II support this theory. Order of turn, determined by the player with the highest roll, did not prove relevant to economic success. Fortuitous luck earned the fourth player $600.00 and a Get Out of Jail Free Card via Community Chest and Chance cards drawn in the first full circle of the board. These advantages coupled with other players’ exaggerated jail sentences proved irrecoverable. The net worth of the winner was three times that of the player in second place. Players were in good spirits however, at the start of game two. The instructions for Stratified Monopoly divide players into four groups, each with its own set of rules. Intent is to mirror demographics described in socioeconomic models of U.S. class structure where the wealthiest and most powerful 1% of the population controls a disproportionate amount of the resources.

(Kendall, 2013, p. 226)

Whether sociologists’ delineate society using Max Weber’s

multidimensional approach where final rank is calculated as a combined figure of sliding scores assigned individually to wealth, power and prestige, or use Karl Marx’ simplified theory based on property ownership, method matters little beyond the scope of formal research. (Kendall, 2013, pp. 224-232) Those members of society born into either the privileged elite or the desperately poor represent the outlyers of statistical models. Numerical evidence reviewed from the interactive graphs provided by the

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Monopoly in a Stratified Society
Introduction to Sociology – Fall 2013

special series produced by The New York Times website, entitled Class Matters, indicatates social mobility is unlikely, in either direction, for the upper-most or lower-most quintile. (Bradbury & Jane, 2005)

Observation of marked behaviorial and postural changes occurred in less than fifteen minutes during this experiment among the players whose roll of the dice placed them in the working and lower class social structure of the game. The most marked evidence of frustration occurred when landing on a property that each could afford, was available for purchase, but social privilege denyed them right to buy. This was a profoundly moving illustration of deeper issues that result from a proclaimed open system designed with closed doors. Weber defines these opportunities and ease of access as “life chances”. Though this term is generally used in reference to “important resources such as food, clothing, shelter, education and health care” (Kendall, 2013, p. 216), the comparison is valid given the only important resource in this game is the access to property.

Players in the working and lower classes exhibited feelings of alienation, ‘a feeling of powerlessness and estrangement from other people and...

References: Bradbury, K., & Jane, K. (2005). The New York Times; Class Matters: A Special Series. Retrieved October
27, 2013, from
Parks, R. (2013, September 23). Monopoly and Monopoly in a Stratified Society. Retrieved from Athens
Technical College, ANGEL On-Line Learning:
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