Soc 202 Chapter 8

Soc 202 Chapter 8 - _ _ 96 Ch. 8 Social Stratification...

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_____________________________________________________________________________ _ 96 Ch. 8 · Social Stratification Chapter 8 Social Stratification ______________________________________________ Detailed Outline I. What Is Social Stratification? Social stratification refers to a system by which a society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy, and involves four principles: A. Social stratification is a trait of society, not simply a reflection of individual differences. B. Social stratification persists over generations. Some individuals, especially in industrial societies, experience social mobility , a change in one’s position in the social hierarchy. C. Social stratification is universal but variable. D. Social stratification involves not just inequality but beliefs. II. Caste and Class Systems Sociologists distinguish between “closed” systems, which allow for little change in social position, and “open” systems, which permit some social mobility. A. The Caste System A caste system amounts to social stratification based on ascription or birth. 1. An illustration: India Many of the world’s societies, most of them agrarian, approximate caste systems, as does India, at least in its traditional villages. These caste systems shape people’s lives in four crucial ways: a. Caste largely determines the direction of a person’s life. b. Caste systems generally mandate endogamy. c. Caste systems limit out-group social contacts. d. Powerful cultural beliefs underlie caste systems. 2. Caste and Agrarian Life Caste systems are typical of agrarian societies because agriculture demands a lifelong routine of hard work. B. The Class System Modern economies depend on developing people’s talents, which gives rise to a class system , social stratification based on both birth and individual achievement. 1. Meritocracy Compared to agrarian societies, where caste is the rule, industrial societies move toward meritocracy , social stratification based on personal merit. 2. Status Consistency
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_____________________________________________________________________________ _ 97 Ch. 8 · Social Stratification Status consistency refers to the degree of consistency in a person’s standing across various dimensions of social inequality. Status consistency is lower in class systems than in caste systems. C. Caste and Class: The United Kingdom The mix of meritocracy and caste in class systems is well illustrated by the United Kingdom. 1. The Estate System During the Middle Ages, England had a castelike system of three estates: a. The first estate was the hereditary nobility. b. The second estate was the clergy. c. The third estate was the commoners. 2. The United Kingdom Today The United Kingdom is a class society, but it retains important elements of its former caste system.
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Soc 202 Chapter 8 - _ _ 96 Ch. 8 Social Stratification...

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