Chapter_8 - CHAPTER 8 What is social stratification Why...

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CHAPTER 8
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What is social stratification? Why does social inequality exist? How do social classes in the United States differ from one another?
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Defined as: A system by which a society ranks and categories of people in a hierarchy
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Four Basic Principles Social stratification is a trait of society, not simply a reflection of individual differences Social stratification carries over from generation to generation Social Mobility A change in position within the social hierarchy Social stratification is universal but variable Social stratification involves not just inequality but beliefs as well
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Sociologists distinguish between Closed Systems – Caste Systems Allow little change in social position Open Systems – Class Systems Permit much more social mobility
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The Caste System Social stratification based on ascription, or birth Little or no social mobility AN ILLUSTRATION: INDIA Four major casts or Varna Sanskrit, Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Sudra Caste position determines life from birth Caste guides everyday life by keeping people in the company of their “own kind” Typically agrarian because agriculture demands a lifelong routine of work Caste system also in South Africa
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The Class System Social stratification based on both birth and individual achievement Schooling and skills lead to social mobility Work is no longer fixed at birth but involves some personal choice MERITOCRACY A concept that refers to social stratification based on personal merit Includes knowledge, abilities, and effort Pure meritocracy has never existed
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STATUS CONSISTENCY The degree of consistency in a person’s social standing across various dimensions of social inequality Low status consistency means that classes are harder to define than castes
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Caste and Class: The United Kingdom Mix of meritocracy and caste in a class system Middle Ages ,caste like system of three estates 1 st - Clergy-speak with the authority of God 2 nd – Hereditary nobility – 5% of population 3 rd – Commoners – worked the land Industrial Revolution Commoners became wealthy enough to challenge the nobility
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UNITED KINGDOM TODAY Mainly a class system with caste elements based on tradition Inherited wealth with high prestige to small number of families Monarch – Queen Elizabeth Parliament’s House of Lords composed of peers Control of government passed to House of Commons Prime Minister and other ministers reach positions by achievement elections
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Classless Societies: The Former Soviet Union Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) Boasted of being a classless society Actually stratified into four unequal categories High government officials Soviet Intelligentsia and lower government officials, College professors, scientists, physicians, and engineers Manual workers Rural peasantry – lowest level
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