Social Stratification – system in which groups of people are divided into layers according to their relative power, property and prestige Social Stratification …Is a characteristic of society, not simply a reflection of individual differences; Persists over generations; Is universal, but variable (it can be altered); Creates not just inequality, but beliefs What Determines Social Class Marx: The Means of Production : Believed that social class depends on a single factor : Means of production – the tools, factories, land and investment capital used to produce wealth; This is what divides the haves and have-nots. Clothing, housing, and other differences are just reflections of this factor Society is divided into : Bourgeoisie – those who own the means of production; Proletariat – those who work for the owner Beggers, criminals and self-employed professionals were not considered to be social classes because they lacked “class consciousness”, a shared identity based on their position in the means of production Workers will unite and over throw the oppressive capitalists; the thing stopping them is: False Consciousness – workers mistakenly think of themselves as capitalists; Ex – worker may have some money in the bank and so may think of himself as an investor or on the brink of starting a successful business Weber: Property, Prestige and Power : Social class is made up of : Property (wealth) – some own the means of production and some control the means of production (both lead to wealth); Prestige – often derived from property, because people tend to look up to the wealthy, although, in some cases, prestige can bring about property; Power – ability to control others, even over their objections; Both property and prestige can help someone in gaining power and power can help someone gain prestige and property Why Social Stratification is Universal Functionalist Perspective: Motivating Qualified People David and Moore’s Explanation : Stratification of Society is Inevitable Because : Society must make certain that its position are filled; Some positions are more important then others; The more important positions must be filled by the more qualified people; To motivate the more qualified people to fill these positions, society must offer them greater rewards Tumin’s Critique of Davis and Moore : How can you determine which positions are really the most important? You can’t base that off of which ones get the highest reward, because that would create a circular argument; If the Davis/Moore theory were true then societies would be “meritocracies” – where all positions are awarded on the basis of merit, but in many cases people gain of lose position in society due to other factors then merit, such as birth right, inherent wealth or the random chance of being a man over a woman; If social stratification were functional then it should benefit almost everyone, but it is dysfunctional for many Conflict Perspective: Class Conflicts and Scarce Resources
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