25 Oct 2013

Sociology of Social Stratification

(Karl Marx)

Social stratification is society's way of ranking people based on a hierarchal system of property, prestige, and/or power.

There are two different types of stratification. The caste system and the class system. Caste ranks people based on whose family they were born into, while class ranks people based on both birth and a person's achievements.

An example of the caste system would be India, where noble families hold the majority of societal power. The lower ranks' abilities to leave their caste are next to impossible. That is why in recent years -- after India started to recognize that there was a discriminatory problem with the caste system -- they have been slowly trying to fix it with urbanization and affirmative action.

As for the class system, an example of this would be western nations. I will use America. In the U.S., if you are born into a rich and prestigious family, then you will have power (fame, wealth, and influence). But unlike India, people from poorer backgrounds can rise to the top classes via hard work and talent.

How the different schools of thought view social stratification:


If you don't remember the 4 paradigms of sociology or you don't know what it is, read this post before continuing on.

-Functionalists view social stratification as beneficial because it rewards the people who work hard and contributes back to their community.

-Conflict theorists, on the other hand, believe that stratification occurs because the powerful have taken control of all the resources and has left the disadvantaged with very little resources to use when they are trying to improve their ranking or to move up.

-Symbolic interactionists look at how status symbols affect people's everyday life. An example would be how wealthy/rich people tend to look down on the less fortunate (poor), and how this behaviour affects the poor.

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