Social Stratification

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Social Stratification
A. What is Social Stratification?
1. Social stratification is defined as a system by which society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy
a. There are four fundamental principles of stratification:
• Social stratification is a characteristic of society -- not just due to individual differences
• Social stratification persists over generations
• Yet, most societies allow some sort of social mobility or changes in people 's position in a system of social stratification
• Social mobility may be upward, downward, or horizontal
• Social stratification is universal but variable (it changes)
• Social stratification involves both inequality and beliefs
2. Social Stratification is patterned social inequality. It
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European imperial powers in Africa imposed a caste system based on skin color: all whites were in a higher position or caste than any nonwhite
f. Caste systems shape people 's lives in four crucial ways:
• Caste system largely determines occupation
• Caste systems largely mandate endogamy
• Powerful cultural beliefs underlie caste systems
• Caste systems limit out group social contacts
g. Although caste influences remains strong in India, the situation is changing due to communication, transportation, industrialization, and the growth of a middle class. 2. In a class system, social stratification is based on individual achievement
a. Class Systems. People who can be considered peers in society because of their similar life chances, similar life circumstances, and similar opportunities, constitute a social class.
• In a class system social standing is determined by factors over which people can exert some control, and some mobility does take place.
b. In a class system, status inconsistency, the degree of consistency of a person 's social standing across various dimensions of social inequality, is lower than in a caste system
c. Structural social mobility: a shift in social position of large numbers of people due more to changes in society itself than individual efforts (Ex. Computer Industry)
d. Stratification persists because it is backed up by an ideology: cultural beliefs that directly or indirectly justify social
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