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Social Stratification

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Presentation on theme: "Social Stratification"— Presentation transcript:

1 Social Stratification
Chapter 8 Social Stratification

2 Chapter Outline Dimensions of Stratification
Explanations of Stratification Stratification in American Society Poverty in America Consequences of Stratification Social Mobility Global Stratification

3 Questions for Consideration
What are the major social classes in the U.S.? For which class is inherited wealth most important? How are one’s education and occupation related to one’s social class? In what ways does television shape our ideas about social class?

4 Dimensions of Stratification
Social Stratification – layers created within the population that ranks individuals by unequal shares of scarce desirables: wealth, prestige, and power. A stratification structure is composed of: Social classes – segments of a population whose members hold a similar share of resources. Number of social classes varies within different stratification structures.

5 Economic Dimension Marx believed the economic factor was an independent variable explaining the existence of social classes. Weber saw the economic dimension as a dependent variable. Therefore, he was more concerned with the economic consequences of stratification.

6 Economic Dimension - Marx
Marx predicted that capitalist societies would ultimately be reduced to two social classes: Bourgeoisie – the rulers Proletariat – those who are ruled All of capitalist society was a superstructure resting on an economic foundation; the economy determined the nature of the society.

7 Economic Dimension - Weber
Weber envisioned several social classes and examined the consequences (life chances) of people’s relationships to the economic institution. Distinguished income (amount of money received) from wealth (all economic resources possessed by an individual or group).

8 Questions for Consideration
What are the life chances identified in this video? How do life chances change for the Guerry family? In what ways do their life chances impact their income and wealth? What are the pros and cons of self-employment?

9 Economic Inequality in America
America was not to have much economic inequality, yet for the past 30 years income inequality has been increasing. The top 1% of the population has accumulated over 70% of all earnings growth. The U.S. is now the most economically polarized and unequal of the major Western countries. In 2005, CEO pay became 262 times the average worker’s pay.

10 Percentage Change in After-Tax Income 1979–2005

11 Economic Inequality in America – Cont.
The richest 1% of households received 70 times as much in average after-tax income than the poorest one-fifth of households and 20 times as much as the middle one-fifth of households. When looking at wealth, the top 1% of American households holds about 33% of the nation’s wealth; the top 20% has 84% of the wealth, the bottom 80% owns 16% of the nation’s wealth.

12 Shares of Wealth

13 Power Dimension - Weber
Power – the ability to control the behavior of others, even against their will. Weber argues that economic success and power do not necessarily overlap. However, Marx would disagree. Weber has several points to this argument.

14 Power: A Separate Dimension
Although money can be used to exert power, that does not mean that is how it will be used; money is a resource that can be used to enhance power, but a decision must be made to use it that way. Money and ownership of the means of production are not the only resources that can be used as a basis for power. Power is attached to social positions we hold. We can overcome a scarcity of resources if we have large numbers of people on our side or if we are skillful at organizing our resources.

15 Prestige Dimension - Weber
Prestige – recognition, respect, and admiration attached to social positions. It is defined by one’s culture and society. Favorable social evaluation is based on norms and values within a group. Prestige is voluntarily given, not claimed. Those accorded similar levels share identifiable lifestyles.

16 Occupational Prestige
Occupations with the greatest prestige: Pay the most Require the greatest amount of training, skill, and ability Provide the most power Are considered the most important



19 Questions for Consideration
Do you think these occupational rankings are universal throughout the world? In what ways do you think gender may impact the prestige ranking of these positions? Does wealth always follow occupational prestige? What factors do you believe impact prestige?

20 Basis of Occupational Prestige
According to Robert Hodge, Paul Siegel, and Peter Rossi (1964) all societies rely on comparable factors when determining occupational prestige. Occupational prestige scores vary according to the following: compensation, education, skills and ability required; power; importance to the society, and nature of the work.

21 Functionalism and Stratification
Functionalist theory views inequality as rendering a service. The most qualified people fill the most important positions and perform their tasks competently. Society attaches special monetary rewards and prestige to these positions in order to encourage people to fill these jobs of prestige.

22 Weaknesses of Functionalist Theory
There are many people who have power, prestige and wealth whose contributions to society do not seem very important (e.g., top athletes, film stars). Ignores barriers to competition faced by some members of society – the poor, women, the aged, African Americans, etc. Overlooks the inheritance of social class level. Has an ethnocentric basis. It assumes that all people in all societies will be motivated to compete for a greater portion of the scarce desirables.

23 Conflict Theory of Stratification
Stratification exists because it helps people holding the most power and economic resources to maintain the status quo. Inequality exists because some people are willing to exploit others. Stratification is then based on force rather than consent. Those with wealth, power, and prestige are able to maintain their share of desirables in society.

24 Symbolic Interactionism and Stratification
Social stratification persists only as long as its legitimacy is accepted. Symbolic interaction helps us understand the process of legitimation. Symbols explain the existence of stratification to the young and the reasons for people being located in particular strata. Views of legitimacy are incorporated into an individual’s self-concept as well.

25 Theoretical Perspectives: Social Stratification
Research Topic Functionalism Relationship between job performance and pay Conflict theory Relationship between social class and the likelihood of punishment for a crime Symbolic Interactionism Link between social class and self-esteem INSERT TABLE 8.2 HERE (FOUND ON P. 218 IN 9TH ED)

26 Class Consciousness Class consciousness – a sense of identification with the goals and interests of the members of one’s own social class. It has been pretty recent that attempts have been made to describe the stratification structure of America as a whole.

27 Identification of Social Classes
Social classes are fluid and abstract. Major features for the American class structure: Upper Class (about 1% of population) Upper Middle Class (about 14%) Middle Middle Class ( about 30%) Working Class (about 30%) Lower Class (about 25%)


29 Questions for Consideration
Are members of the upper class all alike? What is the composition of the middle class? What is unique about the working class? What is the most common shared characteristic of the lower class?

30 Measuring Poverty Absolute poverty – absence of enough money to secure life’s necessities. Determined by annual income. Anything below a determined (absolute) amount is poverty. Relative poverty – measured by comparing economic condition of those at the bottom with that of other strata. Determined by standards within a society.

31 Poverty in America Poverty in America has been measured in an absolute way, drawing the “poverty line”. Poverty line – an annual income level below which people are considered poor. The poor, as measured by this standard in the U.S., comprises over 12% of the population.

32 Identifying the Poor Nearly 44% of the poor in America are non-Latino white. Yet, the poverty rate for whites is 8.2. Poverty rate for African Americans and Latinos is more than 20% each. Although, African Americans and Latinos account for only ¼ of the total population.

33 The Distribution of Poverty in the United States

34 Questions for Consideration
What other conclusions can you make from the figure? In what ways do you think gender and/or age are related to poverty?

35 America’s Poor Older Americans makeup over 9% of the poor (age 65+).
About ½ of poor households are female-headed. About 20 million of the poor in America are over 18 years of age. 45% of poor Americans are working. 1/3 of welfare mothers are working.


37 Ideology of Individualism
Each individual should work hard to succeed in competition with others. Those who work hard should be rewarded with success. Because of widespread and equal opportunity, those who work hard will be rewarded with success. Economic failure is an individual’s own fault and reveals lack of effort.

38 Perception of Poverty According to the ideology of individualism, those at the bottom are where they belong because they lack the ability, energy, and motivation to survive in a competitive social world. Researchers Kluegel and Smith (1990) found that individualistic explanations were the most popular when respondents were asked to explain poverty in America.


40 Questions for Consideration
Do you agree with any of the perceptions/reasons listed? What factors do you think impact individuals’ perception of the poor? Does race influence attitudes toward the poor? Does gender influence attitudes toward the poor?

41 Responses to Poverty In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson marshaled the forces of the federal government to begin a War on Poverty. Prior to this time fighting poverty was not a major goal of the federal government. Aid to Families with Dependent Children and Social Security did not reach the lowest levels of needy citizens.

42 Goals of War on Poverty President John F. Kennedy believed the chains of poverty were to be broken through self-improvement, not temporary relief. Overall goal was to help poor people help themselves.

43 Welfare Reform Prior to 1996 the main source of welfare assistance was AFDC. In 1996, AFDC was replaced with Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). TANF limits the amount of time one can receive welfare payments to a 5 year lifetime limit.

44 Three Elements to Welfare Reform Legislation
Reduces welfare spending. Increases state and local power to oversee welfare rules. Adds new restrictions on welfare eligibility.

45 Success of Welfare Reform
According to the Administration of Children and Families, welfare rolls have decreased substantially since TANF was enacted. Only a small number have been removed due to new time limits. Most of the people who left the rolls in the late 1990s could find only low-wage jobs in industries such as food service, home health care, and retail sales. Wages grew more slowly or fell. Many of those who left the welfare rolls continue to life in or near poverty.

46 Consequences of Stratification
Life Chances – the likelihood of possessing the good things in life: health, happiness, education, wealth, legal production, and even life itself. Power, prestige, and economic rewards increase with social class level. This is also the case for education. Lifestyle – social class differences in lifestyle can be observed in many areas of American life, including education, material and family relations, child rearing, political attitudes and behavior, and religious affiliation.

47 Social Mobility Social mobility – the movement of individuals or groups within a stratification structure. Intragenerational mobility – social class movement within the career of an individual. Intergenerational mobility – social class movement from one generation to the next. Horizontal mobility – change from one occupation to another at same status. Vertical mobility – occupational or social class moves upward or downward.

48 Questions for Consideration
What type of mobility can be used to described Elaine Bell Kaplan’s mobility? What level did she rise to? What was the major factor that made her mobility possible? What are some indicators of her socio-economic status as a child and today?

49 Caste Stratification System
Caste system – there is no social mobility. Social status is inherited. Statuses are ascribed or assigned at birth. Those in one caste are allowed to marry only within their own caste and must limit their relationships with those above and below them. Example – India

50 Open Class Stratification System
Open class system – an individual’s social status is based on merit and individual effort. Individuals move up and down the stratification structure as their abilities, education, resources, and commitment to work permit. Inequality is based on differences in monetary worth and personal accomplishment. Example – United States

51 Social Mobility Comparisons

52 Global Stratification
Scarce desirables are also differently distributed among nations. Gross domestic product (GDP) – total value of the goods and services it produces in one year. Levels of income inequality vary around the world, from low income inequality in Sweden and Ukraine to moderate income inequality in the U.S. to high income inequality in Bolivia.

53 Global Inequality

54 Questions for Consideration
Where are the high-income economies? What pattern of global poverty do you see demonstrated on this map?

55 Global Poverty One quarter of the Earth’s population remains in extreme poverty. More than one half of the world’s population (3.3 billion) lives below the internationally established poverty line of less than $2/day. Advancement in reducing world hunger has come to a virtual halt. In the past 50 years, poverty in the world has decreased more than in the preceding five centuries.

56 Questions for Consideration
How would a functional theorist and then conflict theorist explain the reality of wage differences and those countries where there are people living on less than $1/day? How can you analyze the social mobility that has occurred in your family across as many generations as you can?

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