Essay Social Stratification

From the home, to the workplace, to the classroom, and almost everywhere you look you see class differences. Even if you’re and idealist the truth is that economic differences have a major impact on American society. The clothes you wear, the food you eat, the way you talk, eventually all make reference to the economic inequalities that exist in our society. Economic inequalities have affected Americans as the greatest form of stratification that has an impact on all aspects of life.

Social stratification has to do with inequality and way inequality is organized in a particular society. Social stratification has to do with ranking of people as individuals or in groups in a society. It is essential to understand that all societies have some form of stratification. In this paper I will analyze stratification systems and how it is of my belief economic class has the most affect on society. Stratification systems are differentiated by the ease individuals are allowed to move in and out of a particular stratum. This is at the heart of the issue of countless revolutions and controversy. Karl Marx shown the existence of conflict within stratification when examining the battle between the bourgeoisie, and proletariat. Marx believed this was the basis of stratification.

Traditionally, Americans have thought of themselves as an egalitarian society. Egalitarianism is defined as equal social, political and economic rights for all. This belief first descended from the words of the “Declaration of Independence” that states, “All men are created equal”. This would in some aspects support the claim to an egalitarian society, but on the other hand it states men are created equal which begs the question of the equality of women. Since the origins of the country and back to the origins of humanity stratification was an issue. I am sure prehistoric man was stratified, but possibly in different terms. Instead of economic differences they were separated by differences of who was the better hunter, and maybe who had the most food. Our roots draw back to the problem of stratification systems. As proof of the nonexistence of an egalitarian society I make reference to this statistics “Between 1981 and 2000 the wages of ordinary workers in the US roughly doubled. But in the same period… the earnings of America’s most highly paid CEOs rose by 4300 per cent.” Amazing isn’t it that many people barely get by on their paychecks while other live lavishly. How do we close this gap of economic inequality? Marx believed it was necessary to seek refuge in communism. This did not turn out well for China or Russia who tried to apply this principle only to become a totalitarian government. Although people want to close the economic gap “only 2 percent chose the society with perfect equal incomes.” I believe American justice Louis Brandeis said it best “We can have a democratic society or we can have great concentrated wealth in the hands of a few. We cannot have both.” (Brandeis) Brandeis was correct in my opinion our society may be in a dire situation due to the economic inequalities of the different classes. Everyday when we see starving children, homeless people, and increasing crime rate we realize it isn’t the Promised Land.

The effects of economic inequality are so disparaging that it has had a tremendous impact on education. “Growing up in a state with widespread economic inequality increases educational attainment for high-income children and lower-income children.” (Mayer 1) I believe this statement is clearly true if by educational attainment she is referring to an organized institutional development. An individual also may have the possibilities of choosing alternate educational methods. Besides this minor detail it is absolute correct that if you have a higher income you are more likely to be able to obtain a higher educational proficiency than an individual who is economically less inclined. The economically inclined individual with face more problems in their life were about their financial situation. Frequently these worries cause stress that obstructs educational instruction. It eventually creates an unending cycle of economic inequality since poor children can’t obtain a quality education thus they don’t receive a well paying job and they remain poor so that their children repeat the same process. As the clich? goes “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” This is very evident in current American society where the difference in economic class is outwardly evident. Poor children attending renowned educational institutions may still not receive a quality education for that child due to economic disadvantage feels deprived of gratification in material goods, might feel uninspired. I believe inspiration and motivation are the essential ingredients for a quality education. Whether you attend the best academic institution in the world or not without motivation to learn knowledge means little. The problem is that economic inequalities on the lower end cause individuals to become uninspired and frequently as a last result children enter crime.

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow – until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.” (Lincoln 1864) I am wondering if President Lincoln has some type of supernatural powers, as our society is very similar to the society he proposed over 100 years ago. Wealthy corporations run our society who are in many cases corrupt and majorities of the people do not control the wealth. The question is now not analyzing whether this quote is true or not it is now our job to change our society. How do we get the wealth back to the people? All these draw back to the problems of our nations being based on economical inequalities, but it is my belief the key to our salvation is the education of tomorrow’s youth. If the youth of the future were able to be educated they no longer have to worry about economical problems. Education will most likely advance our society technologically as a result new jobs will open in which the educated hopefully everyone will receive a job.
It may seem that all our problems stem from the corruption of the big corporations and wealthy affluent individuals of our society that make it difficult for economic class change. Now big corporations and rich people often found their beliefs on the concept of capitalism. Can capitalism coexist with Democracy? This question is a tough one to answer since it is almost really subjective. It is of my personal belief that both capitalism and democracy can exist peacefully in American society without causing too many economic inequalities. Our society exemplifies a society where both capitalism and democracy coexist the problem is the majority of individual of this nation are unhappy with their economic situation. These are individuals who view their own personal property to be sacred while they want the properties of the rich to be taken by the government. They want to hold sacred the property of the poor while the property of wealthy are taken by the government. This is based upon a view of jealousy since these individuals don’t have as much as the affluent. If we continue along such a mislead path we will only bring about more pain. This view harbors too much misconception as many wealthy work hard to obtain their economic status without neither breaking legal laws nor moral ones. The matter at hand, which we need to work on, is not taking away, but how we can give more to the poor. How can we educate the poor people in America? How can we create jobs for the economically less fortunate? These are the most [pressing issues that face our society today. People must understand that if we do not examine the problems of our society and try to fix them it will have dire consequences. Even the most wealthy and affluent individual will suffer if the lower class becomes more and more economically un-prosperous. They need to understand that their customer are not usually the wealthy as they only make up a small percentage of their potential customers. It is the little guys like you and me that provide them with their new Ferrari and steak dinners every night.

Lack of education has been showed to have a direct correlation to financial difficulties. This cycle continues along a disastrous path as many adolescents especially choose to live a life of crime in order to obtain the material goods that they dreamed of. This reason society is in dire straights since more people are less educated the more they will resort to criminal activities as a way to get what they want. Crime affects every social class so what we must realize if that if we don’t deal with this crucial issue our society will be breeding criminals by the millions.

In conclusion I have shown that economical inequalities have had the most effect in terms of social stratification. Others elements of course affect our society, but they don’t create such a chain reaction that leads to crime, lack of education, and social deliquesces.

If you are writing a reaction paper on the topic of social stratification, consider the facts listed below:

  1. Social stratification refers to the categorization of people based upon occupation, income, wealth, social status, and power derived from social and political means. Stratification is the relative social position of people within different categories, different social units, or different geographic regions.
  2. In modern society the use of social stratification has distinguished people into one of three classes. The first is the upper-class, followed by the middle class, followed by the lower class. All three of these classes are subdivided further into the upper part of the upper class, the lower part of the upper class, the upper part of the middle class, the lower part of the middle class, the upper part of the lower class, and the lower part of the lower class. In addition to this Western society divides people socially on the basis of kinship.
  3. The categorization of people based on social standing ranges from complex categories – state-based societies all the way to tribal societies based upon classes of nobility and peasants.  Historically hunter-gatherer societies were not socially stratified but rather, stratification started with agriculture when social exchange became commonplace. The structures which create social stratification come from inequalities between individuals and the degree of social inequality is what determines the stratum.  The greater social complexity there is for a particular society, the more social strata exists.
  4. Social stratification has been used within social science to describe the relative position of an individual or a group of people within a social group, within a specific category, within a geographical region, or within a social unit. The word derives from Latin and refers to the categorization of people based on socioeconomic tiers.  The divide between different people is based upon aspects such as income, occupation, power, social status, and wealth.
  5. The concept of social stratification has been interpreted differently within the social sciences. Within the field of Sociology those who support Action Theory suggest that social stratification can be found in all developed societies but those who support dominance hierarchy state that it is necessary in a developed Society in order to maintain stability and order. Conflict theories like that of Marxism focus on the inaccessibility of resources and therefore the complete lack of social Mobility which can be found in any society divided on strata.
  6. Sociological theorists have criticized modern strata, particularly the socio-economic divide, between the wealthy and lower classes, with a great deal of emphasis placed on the diminishing middle class and the ability of the wealthy to hold political power used to exploiting the laboring classes.
  7. Some sociologists maintain that social order and stability in Western societies is regulated by Universal values. These values are not necessarily identical with a consensus but they are the foundation which serves to ignite social conflict throughout history. In fact, societies with larger middle classes have more educated workforces and have more technology-based economies. Some proponents of Dependency Theory state that globalization has influenced the status of third-world individuals.
  8. There are four key principles which underlie social stratification. The first principle is that social stratification is defined as the property of a society and not individuals in a society. The second is that such stratification can be reproduced from one generation to the next. The third underlying principle is that social stratification can be found in each society but it differs based on time and place to some degree.  The fourth underlying principle is that social stratification does not simply cover quantitative inequality with regard to wealth but also quantitative beliefs and different attitudes about social status.
  9. Social stratification is not found only in complex societies even though all complex societies do have some proponents and features of stratification. In more complex societies the total amount of valued goods is not distributed equally. Instead, those families to our privilege will enjoy a higher amount of valued resources, power, and income. In some cases the term stratification system refers to the social relationships observed in such inequalities. The key components to a stratification system include a social process which defines those goods which have value and desire, create the rules for allocating those goods two different positions among the division of labor, and social mobility exist as a link between individuals and different positions they assume.
  10. Social Mobility refers to the movement of social groups, people, or individuals between different strata. This movement can take place within one generation or it can take place between two or more generations. Social mobility is intended to classify various systems of social stratification. Systems which are allow for more mobility between the different strata with value placed upon the achieved status of each individual. Societies which have mobility within a single generation are considered to be the most open of social systems with the highest level of flexibility. Systems which have limited or no mobility even across two or more generations are considered closed stratification systems. In India, for example, the caste system places individuals within a particular social strata from birth and do not allow mobility across multiple generations.
  11. There are different theories of stratification historically speaking. Karl Marx founded Marxist theory which divides the economy into two main sections and follows the relationship between the employer and the employee. This theory focuses on how social class is determined by the relationship an individual has to production.
  12. Another theory of stratification was created by Max Weber. Max Weber was influenced by the ideas of Karl Marx but rejected communism as it related to social stratification. He is well-known for his three component theory of stratification which divides people into four main social classes including the upper class, white collar workers, the petite bourgeoisie, and the working class.  This particular theory is the one which most closely resembles modern Western class structure.

We hope you enjoyed these facts on social stratification for a reaction paper. Take a look at our 10 selected sub-topics on the subject as well as instructive guide that will provide a high value to you.

References:
Behtoui, Alireza. “Social Capital And Stratification Of Young People”. SI 1.1 (2013): 46. Web.
Birkelund, Gunn Elisabeth. “Welfare States And Social Inequality: Key Issues In Contemporary Cross-National Research On Social Stratification And Mobility”. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 24.4 (2006): 333-351. Web.
Bottero, Wendy. Stratification. London: Routledge, 2005. Print.
Chan, Kwok B et al. Social Stratification In Chinese Societies. Leiden: Brill, 2009. Print.
Esping-Andersen, Gøsta. “UNTYING THE GORDIAN KNOT OF SOCIAL INHERITANCE”. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 21 (2004): 115-138. Web.
Littlejohn, James. Social Stratification. London: Allen and Unwin, 1972. Print.
Owen, Carol. Social Stratification. London: Routledge & K. Paul, 1968. Print.
Schubert, Frank and Rolf Becker. “Social Inequality Of Reading Literacy”. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 28.1 (2010): 109-133. Web.
Woelfel, Joseph and Monica Murero. “SPACES AND NETWORKS: CONCEPTS FOR SOCIAL STRATIFICATION”. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 22 (2004): 57-71. Web.

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