Social Stratification and Life Chances

2190 Words9 Pages
Trying to imagine a world where all humans had equal opportunities to resources such as food, employment, education and the like is quite a difficult task. This is simply attributed to the fact that complete equality is something that probably does not exist in the world. In every human society we find some level of ‘social order’ which classifies people according to certain criteria and this in turn determines the kind of lifestyle and life chances that they have. In this essay social class as a form of social stratification will be discussed and how it influences one’s lifestyle and the various opportunities awarded to one. The concept of stratification and class will be defined, followed by a discussion of the various ways in which ones social class impacts their life. Thereafter the theories of social stratification, namely the functionalism and conflict theory will be looked at and conclude with a brief analysis of social class within the South African context. Social stratification occurs in all societies and can be described as a system whereby social groups are divided and piled on top of each other, like the layers of rock (Gabler, 2010). Social class is one of the ways in which society is divided or stratified. It has been defined by Draper et al. as a stratification system that is “determined by factors such as income, wealth, property ownership, level of education and occupation” (Draper et al, 2006: 140). However, Macionis also defines this term as a stratification occasioning from the unequal sharing of riches, power and status (Macionis, 2008). Although these definitions highlight the main characteristics of the concept of class, they cannot be said to be the clear cut definitions as they both differ somehow. Whether there even is one concise definition is a subject for debate because according to Spicer theorists of sociology still do not
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