Patterns of Social StratificationSocial stratification depends upon, but is not the same thing as, social differentiation—the process by which a society becomes increasingly specialized over time.Open and Closed Systems. Where people can change their status with relative ease, sociologists refer to the arrangement as an open system. A closed system is one in which people have great difficulty in changing their status.Dimensions of Stratification. Sociologists typically take a multidimensional view of stratification, identifying three components: economic standing (wealth and income), prestige, andpower.The American Class SystemInequality follows relatively consistent and stable patterns that persist through time. We often refer to advantaged and disadvantaged groups in the United States as the upper class, middle class, and lower class.
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