Social Stratification

Topics: Social class, Sociology, Social stratification Pages: 9 (2698 words) Published: February 16, 2013
Social Stratification
A. What is Social Stratification?
1. Social stratification is defined as a system by which society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy a. There are four fundamental principles of stratification: • Social stratification is a characteristic of society -- not just due to individual differences • Social stratification persists over generations

• Yet, most societies allow some sort of social mobility or changes in people's position in a system of social stratification • Social mobility may be upward, downward, or horizontal
• Social stratification is universal but variable (it changes) • Social stratification involves both inequality and beliefs 2. Social Stratification is patterned social inequality. It is also the unequal distribution of societal resources. Saying that inequality is patterned indicates that the differences occur: a. on a wide-scale basis

b. with regularity
c. and along lines of certain specific, identifiable characteristics (race, class, and gender) 3. Stratification is usually based on three major premises: a. Power: the ability to impose one’s will on others

b. Prestige: the respect given by others
c. Property: forms of wealth
4. Patterned: if we know whether a person or group possesses or does not possess certain traits, then we will be able to predict with reasonable accuracy how this person or group is likely to fare in the social hierarchy a. Social Hierarchy: A set of ranked statuses

5. Social Inequality: Some types of people systematically experience advantages in society while other types of people are systematically disadvantaged in our society a. Some members of our society are thought of as haves, and others are thought of as have-nots. b. The determination of who is socially advantaged and who is included among the ranks of the socially disadvantaged is based, in part, on certain characteristics these individuals possess and, in part, on how society values or devalues these characteristics 6. Social stratification affects people’s lives and can be manifested in various ways in society. 7. Social Inequality is a structured and systematic phenomenon that affects people in various social classes throughout their lives. a. Because of this patterned inequality, social stratification affects people’s life chances: • Life Chances: Opportunities that individuals do or do no have to engage in certain activities, and the opportunities that they do or do not have to accomplish certain goals simply because of where they are located in the social hierarchy (ex. Smart children born into wealth vs. poor families) B. Caste and Class Systems • People are divided into different groupings and their lives are structured according to these groupings. There are certain things that some people cannot do, simply because their station in life prevents them from being able to do them. • Other people, in a different social stratum, are able to do these things specifically because they occupy a more favorable position in the social hierarchy. • Depending on how much individual mobility is possible; societies may be classified as either a caste system or a class system. 1. A caste system amounts to social stratification based on ascription a. A caste system consists of a fixed arrangement of strata from the most to the least privileged, with a person's position determined unalterably at birth. b. The most extensive contemporary example of a caste system is found in India, especially in rural areas. c. Caste discrimination is officially illegal but exists nonetheless. The traditional castes of India: • Brahmans: mostly priests and scholars.

• Kshatriyas: warriors, rulers, and large landholders
• Vaishyas: merchants, farmers, and skilled artisans.
• Shudras: laborers and unskilled artisans.
• Harijans: Sometimes called "untouchables, " they are ranked so low that, technically, they are outside the caste system itself. d. Caste boundaries...
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