Kate Middleton, a commoner, married Prince William, a member of the British royalty.In the United States, although we don't have formal castes or nobility, we do have social stratification. We have very, very wealthy people who have multiple homes, planes, servants, and yachts, and we have very, very poor people who have little or nothing of their own. In between, we have a broadmiddle class.The middle class includes several strata:Highly-educated doctors, lawyers, and business peopleCollege-educated working peopleBlue-collar workers who are in the trades (plumbers, police, and carpenters)First, many wealthy people have lost a great deal of money in hard economic times. But although they may not have a great deal of money, they are still socially important. Second, the idea of social titles and castes has become less fashionable over time. People may enjoy their social position, but they're less likely to brag about it. Last, some very prestigious professions - university professor, scientist, and so on - don't pay very well. It's quite possible for someone to hold a Ph.D., work at a top university, andbe making relatively little money.Also, sometimes a skill can let someone go from one social level to another. Musicians and athletes are good examples of this. Someone with the right set of skills and given the right opportunity can quickly go from being poor and unknown to rich and famous.Types of Social Stratification: Race and EthnicityRace has always been an important part of social stratification. Although it has become less of an issue in some situations, it will probably never go away. Throughout European and American history, having white skin has been a badge of social prestige. Even the poorest white person, at some points in history, was seen as higher on the social ladder than the wealthiest person of color. Today, although there are many wealthy, highly regarded people and families of color, they and their children still have obstacles to face.
Ethnicity can also be a serious problem in some parts of the world. If you are a member of the wrong tribe or clan, you can be placed at the bottom ofthe social ladder. In Colonial Latin America, for example, there was a very strict ethnic caste system. At the top of the ladder were the Europeans fromPortugal and Spain.Next, in order of importance, came the following groups of people:Mestizos (Mixed Amerindian and Spaniard)Mulattos (Mixed Spaniard and African)Amerindians (of Native Indian descent)Zambos (Mixed Amerindian and African)Negros (of African descent)In the United States, people of African descent were brought to this countryas slaves. Although slavery was abolished at the end of the Civil War, African Americans had to fight for social equality for over one hundred years after the war concluded. The civil rights movement of the 1960s had a profound impact on racial equality, but even after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. discrimination continued. In 2008, the United States electedBarrack Obama as the nation's first African American president. Even with