A Class about Class Lesson 8: Social Status and Stratification
Social Animals • Primates are very social animals • Orangutans the on exception • Being social would be selected for • Why? • Humans are highly social animals • We make sense of our interactions through social structure
The Individual • Status and Role • Often used interchangeably, but are very different • Status – a social position that you occupy • We all occupy many statuses at the same time • Not all statuses are the same • Ascribed • Achieved • A Master status is the most important to us
How does Role Differ? • The book defines role as “a bundle of rights and obligations of a given social status” • Role is behavior expected of a social status • As a result of holding multiple statuses at the same time, we can experience: • Role strain • Role conflict
The Group • We exist in many groups, and these groups are one of two types. • Primary group: • Small group • Enduring, personal relationships • Secondary groups • Larger groups • People pursuing a common goal or doing the same activity • Weak emotional ties
The Titanic • A tragic even, but roughly half of the passengers survived • Who were they? Why did they survive?
Stratification • A layering of sediment
Social Stratification • Ranking people in a social hierarchy • Leads to an unequal distribution of wealth, power, and privilege • Not based on intrinsic differences, but rather is social produced • Justifies through hegemony • Exists in essentially all human groups • Unlike rocks, not easy to tell where one social layer ends and the next begins
Forms of Stratification • Egalitarian • Everyone is equal • Caste • Ascribed status with no social mobility • Meritocracy • Social status that is completely achieved
Class Class is a combination of elements from caste and meritocracy A system of social stratification that is ascribed, but allows for social mobility – up, down, or sideways. Status is determined not just by birth, but also by income, personal possessions, education, etc.
Why Class? Marx roots the birth of modern class distinctions in the rise of capitalism The owner class (bourgeoisies) controlled a large sum of the wealth, while the workers (proletariat) had very little The workers are thus exploited for their labor, but encouraged to believe this is natural
Poverty Thus, Marx would argue that poverty is created out of capitalist relations There will always be poverty in capitalist systems due to the nature of competition A capitalist informed perspective suggests that individuals themselves cause their own poverty
Exam Review Questions • What is the difference between status and role? • What are the two types of status? Can you provide examples of each? • What is a master status? • What are the two types of social groups? • What do we call any system of social ranking? • What is the definition of class? Caste? Meritocracy? • What are the two sides in the debate on the cause of poverty? • What did Karl Marx say about the origin of class distinctions?