Social Stratification Essay

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Social Stratification


1. Some questions to consider as we discuss this topic

➢ Why is there inequality?

➢ How much inequality is there in the U.S.?

➢ Why do sociologists look at wealth, income, education, occupation, race, ethnicity, and gender?

➢ How much inequality is inevitable in the U.S.?


2. Definitions

➢ Social stratification: the system of structured inequality, how society creates layers or strata.

➢ Social class: the social position of an individual or a group.


3. Wealth inequality

➢ The richest 1% of American households own about 39% of the national wealth.

➢ What is the difference between wealth and income?


4. Income inequality

➢ Income inequality has been increasing in the U.S. for three decades.


5. Educational inequality


6. Occupational inequality
7. A few more definitions

➢ Social status: the rank or position of a person in the social structure, based on wealth, income, education, occupation, race, ethnicity, and gender.

➢ Achieved status: achieved through personal accomplishments.

➢ Ascribed status: refers to social positions allocated at birth and which cannot be changed.

➢ Master status: one that overpowers or dominates all other statuses.


8. Theories of stratification

➢ The contributions of Karl Marx to understanding social class

First, a person’s class is determined by the source of his or her income – by the relationship to the means of production.

Second, capitalist societies consist of two classes – the capitalists (the bourgeoisie) and the workers (the proletariat).

➢ The contributions of Max Weber

Weber agreed with Marx that economic factors are important in understanding social stratification, but he did not think a single factor could explain something as complex as social structure.

He saw three dimensions to stratification: wealth, power, and...

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