Social Stratification: Through the eyes of Tönnies and Park

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In any study of urban sociology one is bound to encounter few scholars that have contributed as greatly to our current understanding of the structure and evolution of society as have Ferdinand Tönnies and Robert Park. Both born in the late nineteenth century and living well into the first part of the 20th century, affording each an opportunity to experience radical industrial growth, political and economic upheaval, and the first great international war. Despite these similarities, each theorist offered unique perspectives on the sociological changes they saw around them. In this paper, I will attempt to explore these theories’ similarities and differences as well as apply each to the issue of social stratification and inequality in…show more content…
Through this process, Park believes that equilibrium can be maintained without necessarily claiming equality (at least in terms of distribution of resources) between the members of the community. Critics, however, decry Park’s oversimplification of the moral character of individuals in a society, often attributing to them a utilitarian mindset such that “people live together because they are useful to one another” (Faught, 1986, p. 364). Conscious, non-naturalistic acts are not considered in his model of human behavior. A practical example in applying these theories to modern social issues is to examine each theory in terms of the issue of social stratification and social inequality. For the purposes of this paper, I will define social stratification in terms of disparate socio-economic and socio-political classes and the inherent inequality perpetuated by this divide. In researching the literature, it becomes obvious that Park focused a great deal on this dynamic within society and its effect on the culture that supports and became a result of this conflict. In Park’s model we can see inequality almost

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