social stratification
the division of society into groups arranged in a social hierarchy
social inequality
the unequal distribution of wealth, power, or prestige among members of a society
the most extreme form of social stratification, based on the legal ownership of people
caste system
a form of social stratification in which status is determined by one’s family history and background and cannot be changed
the system of segregation of racial and ethnic groups that was legal in South Africa between 1948 and 1991
social class
a system of stratification based on access to such resources as wealth, property, power, and prestige
socioeconomic status
a measure of an individual’s place within a social class system; often used interchangeably with “class”
upper class
a largely self-sustaining group of the wealthiest people in a class system
upper-middle class
mostly professionals and managers who enjoy considerable financial stability
middle class
composed primarily of “white collar” workers with a broad range of incomes
white collar
a description characterizing workers and skilled laborers in technical and lower-management jobs
lower-middle class (working class)
mostly “blue collar” or service industry workers who are less likely to possess a college degree
blue collar
a description characterizing workers who perform manual labor
working poor
poorly educated workers who work full-time but remain below the poverty line
the poorest members of a society who are chronically unemployed and may depend on public or private assistance
status inconsistency
a situation in which there are serious differences between the different elements of an individual’s socioeconomic status
feudal system
a system of social stratification based on a hereditary nobility who were responsible for and served by a lower stratum of forced laborers called serfs
a measure of net worth that includes income, property, and other assets
the social honor people are given because of their membership in well-regarded social groups
social reproduction
the tendency of social classes to remain relatively stable as social class status is passed down from one generation to the next
cultural capital
the tastes, habits, expectations, skills, knowledge, and other cultural dispositions that help us gain advantages in society
everyday class consciousness
awareness of one’s own social status and that of others
social mobility
the movement of individuals or groups within the hierarchal system of social classes
closed system
a social system with very little opportunity to move from one class to another
open system
a social system with ample opportunities to move from one class to another
intergenerational mobility
movement between social classes that occurs from one generation to the next
intragenerational mobility
the movement between social classes that occurs during the course of an individual’s lifetime
horizontal social mobility
the occupational movement of individuals or groups within a social class
vertical social mobility
the movement between social class statuses, often called either upward mobility or downward mobility
structural mobility
changes in the social status of large numbers of people due to structural changes in society
relative deprivation
a relative measure of poverty based on the standard of living in a particular society
absolute deprivation
an objective measure of poverty, defined by the inability to meet minimal standards for food, shelter, clothing, or health care
choosing romantic partners who are similar to us in terms of class, race, education, religion, and other social group membership
choosing romantic partners who are dissimilar to us in terms of class, race, education, religion, and other social group membership
marrying “up” in the social class hierarchy
marrying “down” in the social class hierarchy
digital divide
the experience of unequal access to computer and internet technology
culture of poverty
entrenched attitudes that can develop among poor communities and lead the poor to accept their fate rather that attempt to improve their lot
just-world hypothesis
people have a a deep need to see the world as orderly, predictable, and fair, which creates the tendency to view victims of social injustice as deserving of their fates
residential segregation
the geographical separation of the poor from the rest of the population
the removal of the rights of citizenship through economic, political, or legal means
a system in which rewards are distributed based on merit
simplicity movement
a loosely knit movement that opposed consumerism and encourages people to work less, earn less, and spend less, in accordance with nonmaterialistic values
Weberian theory of social class
class status is comprised of wealth (privilege), power, and prestige
structural functionalist approach to social inequality
social inequality is a necessary part of society; different reward structures are necessary as an incentive for the best qualified people to occupy the most important positions
postmodern theory of social class
social reproduction occurs because of each generation’s collection of cultural capital (BORDIEU)
symbolic interactionist approach to social inequality
social inequality is a part of our presentation of self; we develop everyday class consciousness as a way to distinguish the status of others
a socially defined category based on real or perceived biological differences between groups of people
a socially defined category based on common language, religion, nationality, history, or another cultural factor
symbolic ethnicity
an ethnic identity that is only relevant on specific occasions and does not significantly impact everyday life
situational ethnicity
an ethnic identity that can be either displayed or concealed depending its usefulness in a given situation
minority group
members of a social group that is systematically denied the same access to power and resources available to society’s dominant groups but who are not necessarily fewer in number than the dominant groups
a set of beliefs about the superiority of one racial or ethnic group; used to justify inequality and often rooted in the assumption that difference between groups are genetic
an idea about the characteristics of a group that is applied to all members of that group and is unlikely to change regardless of the evidence against it
unequal treatment of individuals based on their membership in a social group; usually motivated by prejudice
individual discrimination
discrimination carried out by one person against another
institutional discrimination
discrimination carried out systematically by institutions (political, economic, educational, and others) that affect all members of a group who come into contact with it
presenting oneself as a member of a different racial or ethnic group than the one initially was born into
embodied identity
those elements of identity that are generated through others’ perceptions of our physical traits
romantic, sexual, or marital relationships between people of different races
affirmative action
programs or policies that seek to rectify the effects of past discrimination by increasing representation and ensuring equal opportunity for any previously disadvantaged group
the deliberate and systematic extermination of a racial, ethnic, national, or cultural group
population transfer
the forcible removal of a group of people from the territory they have occupied
internal colonialism
the economic and political domination and subjugation of the minority group by the controlling group within a nation
the formal and legal separation of groups by race or ethnicity
a pattern of relations between ethnic or racial groups in which the minority group is absorbed into the mainstream or dominant group, making society more homogenous
racial assimilation
the process by which racial minority groups are absorbed into the dominant groups through intermarriage
cultural assimilation
the process by which racial or ethnic groups are absorbed into the dominant group’s culture
a cultural pattern of intergroup relations that encourages racial and ethnic variation within a society
structural functionalist approach to race and ethnicity
racial and ethnic differences are a necessary part of society; even racial inequality has functions that help maintain social order
conflict theory approach to race and ethnicity
racial and ethnic differences create intergroup conflict – minority and majority groups have different interests and may find themselves at odds as they attempt to secure and protect their interests
symbolic interactionist approach to race and ethnicity
race and ethnicity are part of our identity as displayed through our presentation of self
an individual’s membership in one of two biologically distinct categories – male or female
term to describe a person whose chromosomes or sex characteristics are neither exclusively male nor exclusively female
the physical, behavioral, and personality traits that a group considers normal for its male and female members
human sexual dimorphism
the extent, much debated in recent years, to which inherent physical differences define the distinctions between the two sexes
those who believe gender roles have a genetic or biological origin and therefore cannot be changed
gender identity
an individual’s self-definition or sense of gender
those who believe that notions of gender are socially determined, such that a dichotomous system is just one possibility among many
a male-dominated society
instrumental role
the position of the family member who provides the family’s material support and is often an authority figure
expressive role
the position of the family member who provides emotional support and nurturing
term describing an individual whose sense of gender identity transgresses expected gender categories
individuals who identify with the other sex and have surgery to alter their own sex to it fits their self-image
gender role socialization
the lifelong process of learning to be masculine or feminine, primarily through four agents of socialization: families, schools, peers, and the media
structural functionalist approach to gender inequality
sex determines which roles men and women are best suited to; it is more appropriate for men to play instrumental roles and for women to play expressive roles
conflict theory approach to gender inequality
because of the traditional division of labor in families, males have had more access to resources and privileges and have sought to maintain their dominance
symbolic interactionist approach to gender inequality
gender is learned through the process of socialization; gender inequalities are reproduced through interactions with family, peers, schools, and the media
conflict theory approach to social inequality
social inequality creates intergroup conflict – poor and rich groups have different interests and may find themselves at odds as they attempt to secure and protect these interests
social learning
the process of learning behaviors and meanings through social interaction
feminization of poverty
the economic trend showing that women are more likely that men to live in poverty, caused in part by the gendered gap in wages, the higher proportion of single mothers compared to single fathers, and the increasing costs of child care
second shift
the unpaid housework and child care often expected of women after they complete their day’s paid labor
belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes; also the social movements organized around that belief
first wave
the earliest period of feminist activism in the United States, including the period from the mid-nineteenth century until American women won the right to vote in 1920
suffrage movement
the movement organized around gaining voting rights for women
second wave
the period if feminist activity during the 1960s and 1970s often associated with the issues of women’s equal access to employment and education
third wave
the most recent period of feminist activity, focusing on issues of diversity and the variety of identities women can possess
male liberationism
a movement that originated in the 1970s to discuss the challenges of masculinity
men’s rights movement
an offshoot of male liberationism whose members believe that feminism promotes disrimination against men
pro-feminist men’s movement
an offshoot of male liberationism whose members support feminism and believe that sexism harms both men and women
the character or quality of being sexual
sexual orientation (sexual identity)
the inclination to feel sexual desire toward people of a particular gender or toward both genders
sexual desire for other genders
the tendency to feel sexual desire toward members of one’s own gender
sexual attraction to both genders
involves the lack of sexual attraction of any kind
queer theory
social theory about gender identity and sexuality that emphasizes the importance of difference and rejects as restrictive the idea of innate sexual identity
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer
civil unions
proposed as an alternative to gay marriage; a form of legally recognized commitment that provides gay couples some of the benefits and protections of marriage
fear of or discrimination toward homosexuals or towards individuals who display purportedly gender-inappropriate behavior
restriction or lack of ability to perform an activity in a manner considered normal (resides in the individual)
disability (medical)
restrictions due to social responses to unusual bodies and activity in the built environment (subjective – depends on the context)
disability (sociological)
embarrassing anger, ingratiating sympathy, public acceptance, humoring embarrassment
strategies used by wheelchair users
T/F: America is a profoundly hierarchical society.
T/F: The borders between class groups can be fuzzy, and it is useful to imagine them as being along a continuum rather than being strictly divided.
T/F: There have been many societies throughout history with no social stratification.
T/F: The idea that anyone, no matter where they start out, can, with hard work, succeed in whatever they set out to do is a belief system that explains and justifies America’s class hierarchy.
T/F: When society categorizes people based on race, it leads to inequality.
T/F: There is greater genetic diversity within racial populations than between them.
T/F: The words “race” and “ethnicity” are used interchangeably because they mean essentially the same thing.
T/F: A person who is not prejudiced may still participate in discrimination.
T/F: Sociological theories of gender stratification must look beyond biological sex differences.
T/F: Gender role stratification begins very early in life and ends by the early twenties.
T/F: Gender pervades most, but not all, aspects of family life.
T/F: Language can reflect social change.