Social Stratification and Social Institutions Research Essay

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Social Stratification-Income inequality

Perhaps stated in the simplest way: Social stratification is “the study of who gets what (and why)” (Conley). Social stratification can be more specifically explained as inequality between people based on social conditions. Perhaps the most hotly discussed form of social stratification today revolves around the income disparity between the wealthy, and the rest of the country. In the United States, the stratification of wages between the ultra wealthy and the rest of society has become an issue brought to the forefront of American politics and media coverage. The grassroots movement known as Occupy Wall Street was ultimately formed as a protest to the concentration of wealth and income at the top. Statistics clearly identify the continuing trend of income concentration toward the wealthiest Americans. “Data from tax returns show that the top 1 percent of households received 8.9 percent of all pre-tax income in 1976. In 2008, the top 1 percent share had more than doubled to 21.0 percent” (Inequality.org). History suggests that such an income disparity results in tragic economic consequences. In “1928, when the top 1 percent share was 23.9 percent. The following year, the stock market crashed, and the Great Depression began. After peaking again in 2007, the U.S. stock market crashed in 2008, leading to what some are now calling the Great Recession” (Inequality.org).
Politicians have been quick to identify the income gap as a reason for the current recession. President Barrack Obama stated in a campaign speech that "In the last few decades, the average income of the top 1 percent has gone up by more than 250 percent to $1.2 million per year." Conversely, his opponent Mitt Romney believes that the rising percentage of income being taken by the wealthy is simply a product of capitalism and hard work on their part. He believes that “the nation's growing focus on income inequality is all about envy” (Luhby). The causes of...

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