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Final Outline - Chapter 8 Stratification Class and...

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Chapter 8: Stratification, Class and Inequality Status : the social honor or prestige that a particular group is accorded by other members of a society. Status groups normally display distinct styles of life – patterns of behavior that the members of a group follow. Social Stratification : the existence of structured inequalities between groups in society, in terms of their access to material or symbolic rewards. o While all societies involve some forms of stratification, only with the development of state-based systems did wide differences in wealth and power arise. o The most distinct form of stratifications in modern societies is class divisions. o All socially stratified systems share three characteristics The rankings apply to social categories of people who share a common characteristic without necessarily interacting or identifying with each other People’s life experiences and opportunities depend heavily on how their social category is ranked. The rank of different social categories tend to change very slowly over time o Three Major Types of Stratification Systems Slavery An extreme form of inequality, in which certain people are owned as property by others The legal conditions of slave ownership have varied considerably among different societies Caste A social system in which one’s social status is given for life In caste societies , different social levels are closed, so that all individuals must remain at the social level of their birth throughout life Caste in India o According to Hindu beliefs, there are four major castes Brahmins – scholars and spiritual leaders Ksyatriyas – soldiers and rulers Vaisyas – farmers and merchants
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Shudras – laborers and artisans Dalits – oppressed people Class A large group of people who occupy a similar economic position in a wider society. Most important for analyzing stratification in industrialized societies like the United States Max Weber states that our life chances are the opportunities we have for achieving economic prosperity Four differences why class systems differ from slavery and caste Class systems are fluid Class positions are in some part achieved Class is economically based Class systems are large scale and impersonal o Kuznets curve : a formula showing that inequality increases during the early stages of capitalist development, then declines, and eventually stabilizes at a relatively low level Classes in Western Societies Today o Income : wages and salaries earned from paid occupations, plus unearned money from investments. Income distribution is quite unequal in the US. In 2004: The top 5% of earners received 12.8% of total income The highest 20% obtained 50.1% The bottom 20 percent received only 3.4 percent o Wealth : all assets individuals own: cash, savings, and checking accounts, investments in stock, bonds, real estate properties, and so on
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