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Chapter 6
A RECOGNIZED SOCIAL POSITION THAT AN INDIVIDUAL OCCUPIES
• STATUS SET
– ALL THE STATUSES
HELD AT ONE TIME
• DANCE PARTNER
• BOSS
• FRIEND
• HARLEY CLUB
MEMBER
• SPORTS PARTICIPANT
• BUSINESSMAN
•TYPE OF STATUS
–ASCRIBED: INVOLUNTARY POSITIONS
–ACHIEVED: VOLUNTARY POSITIONS
•OFTEN THE TWO TYPES WORK
TOGETHER, WHAT WE ARE ASCRIBED
OFTEN HELPS US ACHIEVE OTHER
STATUSES
Ascribed and Achieved
•
•
•
•
•
•
Ascribed
Race
Sex
Age
Ethnicity
Physical
Characteristics
• Caste
•
•
•
•
Achieved
Occupation
Education
Social class
Status Set
Master Status
• A status that has special importance
for social identity, often shaping a
person’s entire life.
• Profession, job, family name, title,
disability, applied stigma (felon)
...THE BEHAVIOR EXPECTED OF SOMEONE WHO FILLS A PARTICULAR
STATUS
• ROLE SET
– A NUMBER OF
ROLES
ATTACHED TO A
SINGLE STATUS
• DISCIPLINARIAN
• SPORTS
AUTHORITY
• DIETITIAN
• BUSINESSWOMAN
• CAREGIVER
• DR. MOM
• KITCHEN QUEEN
• PRETTY MOM
ROLES DEMAND A
PERSON’S TIME AND
ENERGY
•
ROLE CONFLICT
– INVOLVES TWO OR MORE STATUSES
• EXAMPLE: CONFLICT BETWEEN ROLE
EXPECTATIONS OF A POLICE OFFICER
WHO CATCHES HER OWN SON USING
DRUGS AT HOME – MOTHER AND COP
•ROLE STRAIN
– INVOLVES A SINGLE STATUS
• EXAMPLE: MANAGER WHO TRIES TO
BALANCE CONCERN FOR WORKERS
WITH TASK REQUIREMENTS – OFFICE
MANAGER
Social Construction of Reality
• People shape reality through social
interaction
• Tomas Theorem- “situations that are
defined as real are real in their
consequences”
• Ethnomethodology- the study of the
way people make sense of their world
• People build reality from the
surrounding culture. Why?
Dramaturgical Analysis
The “Presentation of Self”
• Presentation of self- impression
management
• Performances
• Nonverbal communications
• Gender and performances
• idealization
The social construction of feelings
•
•
•
•
Biological components
Cultural components- personal space
Language and value
Humor- contrasting the conventional to
the unconventional
• Functions of humor
release of potentially disruptive sentiments
relieve tension in uncomfortable situations
humor and power; “put-down jokes”
Chapter 10
Social Class and Socioeconomic
Stratification
Caste and Class
Socioeconomic status and Class in the U.S.
Socioeconomic Mobility
Sociological analysis of stratification and Class
Functionalist
Conflict
Integration – Distributive Systems Theory
Symbolic Interactionist
The Great Social Transformation and
Social Class
• Traditional hunting and gathering societies had little
stratification
• Horticultural and agrarian societies have highly
developed systems in which a small elite dominates the
masses of peasant laborers. Although there is
stratification, there is virtually no socioeconomic
mobility.
• With industrialization, the rigidity of class lessens, and
there is social mobility, especially within the large
middle class, and from the lower into the middle
classes.
SOCIAL STRATIFICATION
A SYSTEM BY WHICH A SOCIETY RANKS CATEGORIES
OF PEOPLE IN A SOCIAL HIERARCHY.
• IT IS A TRAIT OF SOCIETY
– DOES NOT REFLECT INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES,
BUT SOCIETY’S STRUCTURE
• IT PERSISTS OVER GENERATIONS
– SOCIAL MOBILITY HAPPENS SLOWLY
• IT IS UNIVERSAL
– WHILE UNIVERSAL, IT VARIES IN TYPE
• IT INVOLVES INEQUALITY IN BELIEF SYSTEM
– IDEOLOGIES JUSTIFY EXISTENCE OF
STRATIFICATION
What is Social Class?
• Social class - a large group of people who rank
closely to one another in wealth, power, and
prestige.
• These elements separate people into different
lifestyles.
• Social class provides people with different
chances, and different ways of viewing the
world.
Components of Social Class
• The top 20% of the
• Wealth - consists of
population receives
property and income.
almost half of all income
• Wealth and income are
in the U.S.
not the same.
• Some have wealth but • The bottom 20%
receives only 4.2% of
little income.
the nation’s income.
• Americans as a whole
– The richest 20% have
are worth about $25
grown richer, and the
trillion.
bottom 20% have
grown poorer.
Components of Social Class
• Power - the ability to
carry out your will despite
resistance.
• The power elite - those
who make the big
decisions in U.S. society.
• Power lies in the hands of
the few.
• Prestige - respect or
regard
• Class ranking is
persistent across
cultures and time.
• People display
prestige through
status symbols.
Status
• Status - our social ranking.
• Ordinarily, a person has a similar rank in all
three dimensions of social class: wealth, power,
and prestige = status consistency.
• Status inconsistency - when a person has a
mixture of high and low ranks.
– Individuals with status inconsistency are likely to
confront one frustrating situation after another.
– Snoop Dogg; Jerry Seinfeld; Gangsters; ???
Caste and Class
• A Caste system consists of a fixed arrangement of
strata from the most to the least privileged, with a
person’s position determined unalterably at birth.
Mobility between castes is rare.
• Traditional caste systems still exist, as in India,
however social forces are at work to weaken the
rigidity of this system
• A caste system may be based upon many ethnic and
cultural factors; ethnicity, nationality, religion, skin
color, heredity, and in many ways, gender.
SOCIAL STRATIFICATION BASED
ON ASCRIPTION
• BIRTH DETERMINES SOCIAL
POSITION IN FOUR DISTINCT WAYS
–
–
–
–
OCCUPATIONS
ENDOGAMY IS PRACTICED
SOCIAL LIFE IS RESTRICTED
BELIEF SYSTEMS ARE OFTEN TIED TO
RELIGIOUS DOGMA
• LACK OF MOBILITY “I am Dalit”
Caste and Class
• In a Class system social standing is determined by
factors over which people can exert some control,
and mobility does take place. Typically classes are
divided in to the upper class, middle class, and lower
class.
• Marx felt that a person’s position in the economic
system dictated class. Weber added party (political
power) and status (social prestige) as factors.
This portion of the site was created to aid in the dismantling of the oppressive political
and social category to which Black people are subject. This caste system, to which
power and privilege are organized, is an outgrowth of colonialism and slavery. The
system known as 'racism' in America, was created to justify the oppression and
exploitation of American citizens of African descent.
Caste and Class
• Currently social scientists use several social
dimensions related to those identified by Marx and
Weber:
• Education – education can provide esteem, a
pathway to wealth, and a prestigious occupation.
Historically these benefits have not been shared
equally, demonstrating the operation of power
exercised for the benefit of those who wield it
• Occupational Prestige - some occupations are
valued by a society more than others
• Wealth – assets and income
Consequences of Social Class
• In family life, the capitalists place emphasis on family
tradition.
– Divorce is most common among the lower social
classes.
• Education increases as one moves up the social
class ladder.
• In religion, certain classes tend to cluster in different
denominations.
• In politics, the rich tend to vote Republican while the
poor tend to vote Democratic.
• WHY?
Caste and Class
• Class in America
• Upper class – the elite with great wealth who own the
“means of production”, or who otherwise dominate the
economic system
• Lower upper class – recently ascended to the upper
class, but do not have the established pedigree;
nouveau riche
• Middle class – professionals with high paying jobs in
respected occupations (upper-middle class), and the
skilled who work in moderately compensated
occupations, and who own few assets (lower-middle
class).
THE AMERICAN CLASS
SYSTEM OF STRATIFICATION
BASED ON INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT, NOT ASCRIPTION
Caste and Class
• Class in America
• Lower class – working class (what does this mean today?)
who do not earn enough to accumulate wealth, but who
may be able to purchase a home and vehicle etc… The
lower-lower class is made up of those who are not
educated (college and sometimes high school) and live
in the less desirable parts of the community because of
low costs of rent. They typically do not own a home.
The lowest of the poor live at subsistence level or
below, are chronically unemployed, and are sometimes
homeless.
Caste and Class
• Class, Race, and Gender interact in order to produce
a person’s place in society, and their self identity. Race
and gender represent ascribed status and carry with
them cultural stereotypes and values which individuals
and groups must confront and challenge; “intersection
theory” page 342. Though an ascribed status is difficult
to change, the social meanings of a status can be
modified or changed through social action. In
capitalistic democracies class status is somewhat fluid
and subject to modification by the individual.
Socioeconomic Mobility
• Social Mobility - Movement of individuals or groups
within a stratification structure
• Intra-generational mobility – movement within a
career of an individual
• Inter-generational mobility – mobility of groups from
one generation to another
• Horizontal mobility – a change from one
occupation to another at the same general status
level
• Vertical mobility – upward or downward movement of
occupational or social class
Socioeconomic Mobility
• Determinants of mobility
– Steepness of the socioeconomic pyramid – only very few
positions at the top; how many people can be President?
– Starting position on the socioeconomic ladder – some
persons start closer to the top than others; it is easier to
become President if you are already elected to higher office
– Structural mobility – the movement of entire categories of
people due to changes in society itself; correctional officers
have moved up the occupational status ladder from security
guards to professionals in terms of both income and prestige.
Why?
THE DAVIS-MOORE PERSPECTIVE
• THESIS
– STRATIFICATION HAS BENEFICIAL CONSEQUENCES (IT’S
FUNCTIONAL) FOR THE OPERATION OF THE U.S..
• KEY POINTS
– MEMBERS OF SOCIETY HAVE NEEDS
– SOME STATUSES IN SOCIETY ARE MORE IMPORTANT
THAN OTHERS WHEN IT COMES TO SEEING TO NEEDS
– TO ATTRACT THE BEST QUALIFIED AND TO GIVE OF
THEIR TIME, EFFORT, AND ENERGIES, REWARDS MUST BE
SUFFICIENT IN NATURE (INCOME, PRESTIGE, POWER)
– KEY CONCEPT
– MERITOCRACY AND GETTING WHAT YOU “DESERVE”
– DOES EVERYONE IN AMERICA GET WHAT THEY DESERVE?
ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE
KARL MARX BELIEVED THAT CAPITALIST SYSTEMS OF
STRATIFICATION WOULD ALWAYS BENEFIT A FEW AT THE EXPENSE OF THE MANY
• ONE’S PLIGHT IN LIFE IS TIED TO
A PERSON’S RELATIONSHIP TO
THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION
– A PERSON EITHER CONTROLS
MONEY AND EQUIPMENT, OR WORKS
FOR THOSE WHO DO
• THROUGH INHERITENCE LAWS,
SOCIAL CLASSES THEN
REPRODUCE THEMSELVES OVER
GENERATIONS
• EVENTUALLY, YEARS OF CLASS
OPPRESSION WOULD LEAD TO
CAPITALISM’S DEMISE
– SOCIALISM REPLACES CAPTIALISM
Ideological Support for Inequality
• There exists in the beliefs of people explanations
which justify or legitimize a particular societal
structure. There will always be, in the minds of
those who are privileged in a society, the desire
to justify their good fortune as being a result of
personal qualities such as hard work.* The social
scientist, however, looks for structural reasons for the
patterns of the distribution of wealth, for admission to
and graduation from the best universities, and the
securing of the best jobs.
* “self-serving bias”
Ideological Support for Inequality
• Marx argued that the class(es) in power impose their
ideology on the entire society, and that false
consciousness occurs when people without power
accept an ideology that is contrary to the interests of
that people as a class.
• Marx further suggested that this false consciousness
will exist until the exploited class develops a sense of
class consciousness, at which time the people will
unite in the pursuit of their collective interests and
challenge the power classes.
• The history of racial minorities!!!!!!!!
Sociological Analysis of Stratification
and Class
• Functionalist Perspective
– The lower class provides a pool of inexpensive laborers that help
keep prices down
– The poor buffer the lower-middle class from economic changes
– People have different skills and knowledge and will always seek
different opportunities
• Conflict Perspective
– Stratification and class are the results of the inequality in the
distribution of the wealth, which is sustained by the exertion of
power
• Symbolic Interactionist Perspective
– People are socialized to accept inequality
– People in the subordinate classes often adopt the value systems of
those in power and see themselves as unworthy; Marx?
Relative versus Absolute Poverty
• Relative Poverty:
An uneven distribution of wealth where some people lack
resources that are taken for granted by others
• Absolute Poverty:
A situation in which the lack of resources is lifethreatening
Relative versus Absolute Poverty
• Poverty and Women:
In poor countries men own 90% of the
land.
70% of the world’s 1 billion people living
near absolute poverty are women
Slavery
• Chattel slavery– one owns another
• Child slavery- children used to beg,
steal, or work
• Debt bondage- workers are not paid
enough to pay for their expenses
• Servile forms of marriage- women are
sold off into marriage or prostitution
Global Power Relationships
• Colonialism – the process by which
some nations enrich themselves through
political and economic control of other
nations
• Neocolonialism – a new form of power
relationship that involves economic
exploitation by multinational
corporations
Global Stratification
• Modernization Theory – explains
global inequality in terms of
technological and cultural differences
between nations stages of modernization p. 318
• Dependency Theory – explains global
inequality in terms of the historical
exploitation of poor nations by powerful
ones
see matrix on page 326
Wallerstein’s Capitalist World
Economy
• Rich nations = core
• Low-income = periphery
• Middle-income = semi-periphery
resources are funneled into rich nations through
colonialism, which uses cheap labor to mine or
harvest raw materials; both the low and middleincome countries become markets for products.
3 Factors include 1. narrow export markets; 2.
lack of industrialization capacity; and, 3.
foreign debt