What Do Sociologists Mean by Social Stratification?

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What do sociologists mean by social stratification? Discuss its consequences for society and for individuals living within it. Illustrate and support your response with sociological argument and evidence.

Sociologists have varying views on social stratification, therefore their approach to how it can impact society and individuals results in very different concepts. This piece of work will identify and discuss the key points which are significant to the sociological debate.
Social Stratification is ‘a system by which society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy’ (Macionis & Plummer: 2006:190). Stratification involves the layering of society into strata where a hierarchy emerges. Social stratification involves the
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This is imposed upon them by the powerful social groups who wish to remain in their higher strata.
Social class is one of many stratification systems found in modern industrialised societies. Social class is a concept in which people are grouped into a set of hierarchical social categories who share similar economic positions in society determined by occupation and wealth. They are also likely to have similar levels of education and status and these can be known as the upper, middle and lower classes. Functionalists trust that the social class system makes a positive contribution to the whole of society; it ensures that the most important positions within society are filled by the individuals with the attributes most suited for that position. Davis and Moore (1945) support this idea that each individual’s class position is a true reflection of their talents and that the meritocratic principles on which society are based succeed in finding the right people for the right jobs. They believe that social class stratification encourages all members of society to work to the best of their ability in order to receive high rewards of wealth and status within society. Melvin Tumin (1967) argues with this theory, that the social stratification system can demotivate those in the lower strata, and does not provide equality of opportunity for everyone.
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