Social Stratification (soc #1)

a system by which a society ranks and categorizes people in a hierarchy such that structured inequalities exist between groups in access to material or symbolic rewards
-correlates with conflict theory
ontological equality
the notion that everyone is created equal in the eyes of god- used as justification for material inequality
equality of opportunity
inequality is acceptable as long as everyone has the same opportunity for advancement and is judged by the same standards
-primary focus of civil rights leaders in the 60s
equality of condition
idea that everyone should have an equal standing point from which to pursue his or her goals
-in monopoly terms: everyone tarts out with same amount of money
equality of outcome
everyone in society should end up with the same “rewards” regardless of starting point, opportunities, or contributions
-criticism:takes away incentives to work hard
caste system
born in to and stay for whole life
class system
-economically based
-fluid-not fixed, where you are based on everyone else
-social mobility possible
-based on ascribed (birth) and achieved statuses
-large scale and impersonal
status hierarchy system
based on social prestige
-typically occupational status but also lifestyle and organizational membership
-duncan scale of occupational prestige
elite-mass dichotomy
-meritocracy-most capable rise to top
-system that has a governing elite- a few leaders hold the power to society
-Pareto Principle
Pareto Principle
idea that masses benefit when the most capable minorities have more power
-Mills (conflict perspective) argued that this is dangerous – so much power in the hands of so few
bourgeois society
society of commerce in which the maximization of profit is the primary business incentive
freerider problem
the notion that when more than one person is responsible for getting something done, the incentive is for each individual to shirk responsibility and hope others will pull the extra weight
contradictory class locations
people can occupy locations in the class structure that fall between two “pure” classes
structural mobility
mobility that is inevitable from changes in the economy
exchange mobility
mobility in which, if we hold fixed the changing distribution of jobs, individuals trade jobs not one-to-one, but in a way the ultimately balances out.
social mobility
ability to change positions in a social stratification system
intragenerational social mobility
mobility within the course of one person’s life
intergenerational social mobility
mobility from one generation to the next
gatsby curve
as parent income becomes more unequal, upward mobility decreases
functionalist theory of stratification
Davis and Moore Thesis: social stratification has beneficial consequences for society
-the greater the functional importance of a position, the more rewards society attaches to it
-social position based solely on innate talent and efforts
-all groups benefit when most valuable positions receive the greatest rewards (trickle down economics)
functionalist explanation of rising inequality since 1980
beginning in 1980, the skills, intelligence, and talents of the wealthiest individuals became much more valuable than those of the least wealthy
-could be correct to some extent: increasing role of technology may make skills of wealthy more valued
conflict explanation of rising inequality since 1980
people in power (capitalists who own the means of production) are able to define what is “valuable” in society and structure rewards accordingly in ways that protect their interests
-laws policies, ideology
stratification is not functional but leads to conflict and social tension
deprivation due of economic circumstances severe enough that one cannot live with dignity
absolute poverty
life threatening lack of resources; can’t meet minimal requirements to purchase food; uncommon in US
relative poverty
the deprivation of some people in relation of those who have more; lacks decent standard of housing and healthy living conditions
poverty as culture – culture of poverty
argues that poor people adopt lifestyles and beliefs which differ from those of middle-class, “mainstream” circumstances and these help them in poverty
-dependency culture
-but critics say most poverty is situational and most poor have same values as non-poor
dependency culture
arguments that providing welfare erodes people’s desires to work.
poverty as structural
poverty as the result of lack of income producing employment for all sectors in a capitalist society
-capitalism needs a “reserve army” of workers who can be fired in economic stagnation and rehired in prosperity
poverty as situational
at the individual level poverty is widespread but temporary
-occurs in response to major life crisis
-2/3 of Americans between age 20 and 65 will use a welfare program at some point, but 90% only use it once
-only 3% of families are persistently poor over multiple years
belief that the poor are not only different from mainstream society in their inability to take advantage of what society has to offer, but also are increasingly deviant and even dangerous to the rest of us
perverse incentives
rewards structures that lead to sub optimal outcomes by stimulating counter productive behavior
*welfare to the extent that it discourages work efforts
parenting stress hypothesis
low income, unstable employment, a lack of cultural resources, and a feeling of inferiority from social class comparisons exacerbate household stress levels – which leads to detrimental parenting practices such as yelling and hitting