He opposed caste systems of stratification that create systematic inequality on the basis ofbirth into a specific groupHe criticized societies based on strict, military, religious, and aristocratic stratification, arguing that these systems naturally tend to collapseMills takes a much more negative view of the elite-mass dichotomy, arguing that it is neither natural nor beneficial for societyIn Mill’s view, the elite do not govern the way Pareto claims they doWhereas Pareto views elite status as the reward for talent that helped certain individuals rise through the ranks of societyThe power elite is further stratified for Mills; at the inner core of the power elite are thoseindividuals who interchange commanding roles at the top of one dominant institutional order with those in anotherHow is America Stratified Today?RVCHAPTER SEVEN: STRATIFICATION
Socioeconomic statusis an individual’s position in a stratified social orderWhen sociologists talk about socioeconomic status, they are referring to any measure thatattempts to classify groups, individuals, families, or households in terms of indicators such as occupation, income, wealth, and educationBecause these are common terms, we need to take them seriously, even if they are not of scientific origin and lack sufficient rigorThe Upper ClassGenerally, the upper classrefers to the group of individuals at the top of the socioeconomic food chainoDEF: a term for the economic elite In practice, however, the term is used to describe diverse and complex conceptsHistorically, the upper class was often distinguished by not having to work. (The economist and social critic Thorstein Veblen dubbed this group the leisure class)The upper class was the basis for Marx’s capitalist classIn the United States, “upper class” is associated with income, wealth, power, and prestigeAccording to some sources, the primary distinguishing characteristic of upper-class individuals in their income—generally more from returns on investment rather than wagesAlthough estimates vary, approximately 1% of the U.S. population is considered to fall inthis stratumIn the period between 2009 and 2012, the top 1% of Americans saw their income grow by31/4%, but the income of all other Americans barely grow at all, increasing just 0.4% Over and above income levels, the upper class is also distinguished by prestige and power, which can be used to promote personal agendas and influence everything from political decisions to consumer trends The Middle ClassAlthough those in the upper class have very real influence and control, the effects of this are sometimes limited in public perceptionThe United States is often thought of as a middle-class nation—so much so that depending on how the question is phrased, almost 90% of Americans have self-identified with this stratumThere is no consensus on what the term middle classreally meansoDEF: a term commonly used to describe those individuals with nonmanual jobs that pay significantly more than the poverty line—through this is a highly debated
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