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Global Stratification Chapter 2

Global Stratification
Chapter 2 – The Great Debate
September 13, 2019
Arguments From the Ancients
 Some of the earliest writings consist of laws, codes, and royal inscriptions.
 Hammurabi was very progressive. Rather than ruling by whim and arbitrary
command, he set down a code of laws that specified the rights and duties of his
subjects, along with the penalties they faced for infractions.
He did not consider all his subjects to be created equal = Man vs. Common man,
who did not possess full manhood status. He ignored women altogether.
The idea that laws apply differently to different classes of citizens is ancient.
 The Aryan Invaders of India at the same time were establishing a caste system that
formalized a stratified society with fixed social positions.
 This image of parts of society as parts of a body would remerge in medieval Europe
as well as in early sociological descriptions.
 Each person is in an appropriate position according to his or her caste’s divine origins.
Those in the upper classes were largely descended from the conquerors, whereas
those in the lower classes were largely descended from the conquered.
 The Buddha taught that liberation from suffering means giving up desire and that right of
living means moderation in all things, caring for all things, and the giving of donations.
 He asserted that the highest calling is the voluntary poverty of the monk.
 Confucius believed in justice, duty, and order, but his just order was extremely
hierarchical. Foremost was duty to the family and respect for elders, especially elder
males or patriarchs.
 According to Confucius, in a good society each individual knows his or her place and
does not challenge the Way of Heaven.
 Plato, had a simple but compelling theory of social inequality:
 Whatever their commitments as citizens to the welfare of the state, all parents tend to
be partial to their own children and to give them special advantages. This allows these
children to prosper and in turn pass on even greater advantages to their children.
 The divides, separating families become both large and fixed, resulting in a class of
“noble birth” and a class of “common birth”.
 Plato’s solution to the inequality was the communal raising of children, apart
from their families.
Plato was a communist
 He envisioned his ideal state, one which no inequalities exist except those based on
personal talent and merit. In such a state, the wisest exist except those based on
personal talent and interests of all the people.
 Aristotle, did not believe a society should be marked by extremes of wealth and poverty,
rather, he recommended a golden mean between these extremes.
 For Aristotle, inequality was rooted in human nature.
 The Romans also gave their ideology of inequality a “Racial” basis that could justify
The Challenge From New Faiths
 Jesus and most of his early followers did not win the praise and favor of the rulers,
whether political or religious, of the time.
 Jesus and his followers practiced communal sharing and challenged the existing
order; they were radicals.
 Communist and that is why he was not very favorable.
People who were following him went back to the conservative theorists to explain
 Muhammad (PBUH), called followers to a life of devotion to Allah, the one true God.
 His was a message of religious reform more than social reform.
 His ideas of a brotherhood and sisterhood, for he seemed to endorse the Christian idea
that men and women are equal before God even if in different social roles.
The city of Mecca had become a center of international trade and finance, but with
it came a new business ethic of wealth and advancement in place of the tribal
communal values.
The rulers and powerful merchants of Mecca soon saw the threat and Muhammad
was driven from the city.
Quran accepts much of the social pattern of the ancient world but with new
sensitivities: Slavery is acceptable, but Muslims should not enslave other
Muslims; women are encouraged in traditional domestic roles and great modesty
but are also to be treated with great respect; the poor and the needy are assumed to
continue, but all Muslims must give alms, a required donation, to the poor.
 The dominant view of medieval theology was decidedly conservative;
 John of Salisbury revived the image of the body to explain social inequality:
The prince is the head, the senate the heart, the soldiers and officials the hands,
and the common people the feet, and so they rightfully work in the soil.
The Social Contract
 The emphasis was on political rather than economic reform, so legal rights were the
prime concern.
 John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, argued that rulers’ political authority
comes from the consent of the governed rather than from divine right.
They became the basis of the 1776 American Declaration of Independence and of
the 1789 U.S. Constitution with its Bill of Rights.
They were also the foundation of the subsequent French Revolution, with its more
radical cry of “Liberty, fraternity, and equality”
There should be some common stuff and not everything should be private
 Adam Smith, argued for unregulated free trade and commerce to meet the demands
of consumers.
He asserted the “invisible hand” of the market would balance competing
individuals demands to produce the greatest good for all.
This idea was setting the basis for classical economics – Liberalism.
Smith envisioned a world of free trade, free markets, and free competition among
By limiting royal power they were setting the stage for nations of free, prosperous,
and more equal citizens.
Why is it conservative? Inequality motivates the market and competition is good.
Don’t tell me what to do to help take care of things, it will naturally happen.
Karl Marx
 Thesis – feudalist system
 Changing from feudalist to capitalist came from its own issues and even worse than
the feudalist.
 Eventually from the thesis to the antithesis there will be an event where the workers
of the world would unite and overthrow and we would end up in communism
Emile Durkheim and the Search for order
 Many theorists believed that stratification is a part of maintaining a functioning social
 He was mainly interested in the issue of social solidarity.
 Division of labor: the way tasks are ever-more likely to be divided into the domains
of specialists
Societies have “mechanical solidarity” that comes from shared experience in
which everyone works together on common tasks. This solidarity is reinforced by
religion and rituals, forms the basis of social cohesion.
Conflict Functionalist Approaches to the Debate
 The Durkheimian legacy became American functionalism through the extensive work of
different theorists.
 Functionalist statement on inequality based in the conflict tradition.
 Conservative thesis vs. radical antithesis
 To maintain a working social order a modern society must do two things:
It must place people in the division of labor, and it must motivate them to work hard in
that position.
 They argued that social stratification does both,
 Differential rewards are needed to compensate those people who make sacrifices to
gain an education and work to make it to the top.
 The competitive struggle to reach the top ensures that everyone works hard, hoping
for advancement and that the most talented should eventually garner the most
powerful positions, where they can accomplish the most good.
 Stratification is universal, occurring in all societies, because it is necessary and
inevitable, resulting from the need for a working social order.
 It ultimately benefits everyone by creating the most efficient, most productive society.
 On the other hand, Tumin drew on the conflict tradition to deny all these things.
 Stratification system may actually limit the discovery of talent, because those without
access to resources such as fine schools may never be able to develop and display
their talents.
 The losers in the great game are likely to be discouraged, alienated and openly hostile
to the system.
 Inequality creates hostile parties that makes us want tear each other apart and makes it
The nature of the relationship is based on competition.
It is dysfunctional – inequality. Dehumanizing one another, because it pushes us
on viewing each other less of humans.
The conservative thesis:
 Davis and Moore’s arguments: inequality motivates hard work, competition, and
 The antithesis from the left echoes Tumin’s assertions: inequality erodes opportunity.
Perpetuates privilege and undermines motivation and hard while it perpetuates
Class Notes
Functionalist Perspective
 Society strives for
 Harmony
 Consensus
 Stability
 Different “organs” that serve different functions – interdependent
 One part affects the other – if one thing happened to one part the other part will be
affected to
 Inequality as being justified – “it is necessary
 Anything in a society is necessary and if we don’t need it we would have gotten rid of
 It serves a purpose and if it didn’t we would have gotten rid of it.
Conflict Perspective
 Competition over scarce resources
 Focused on one group exploiting another group and how it’s unfair.
 Us vs. Them – Have’s vs. Have not’s
 Powerful vs. not powerful
The Great Debate: The Historical Debate
 Thesis – the standard quo
 Antithesis – The radical – the result of exploitation and we don’t need to have it.
 Synthesis –
 The conservative – functionalist and thesis
 The dominant position throughout history – the majority of power.
 Those who are powerful are very conservative.
 Dominant thinking that social inequality reflects basic differences between people
when it comes to their creations, abilities, and worth.
Inequality is a natural result of us having different abilities of intellect and
strengths and talents.
Necessary for ordinary for stability
If you take away inequality then stability would be torn apart.
 The radical – Conflict perspective and antithesis
 Not necessary for function and it is harmful and unjust
 It is not based on something real, it is based on your luck and the advantages that you
are born with.
 Social inequality is fundamentally unjust.
Inequality can be the downfall for societies.
Sernau poses the inequality debate as being centered around a Hegelian dialectic – a thesis
and antithesis. What are those positions?
The Great Debate: The Sociologists
Karl Marx
 The concept of the modes of production has two components
1. Physical – Technology and materials
2. Human – Labor
 The disconnection between the two components occurs with private property coming
into play.
 With private property ruining out pre-modern communal communism, men start
treating women and children as property in connection to land.
 How property owning led to why we see civilizations and empires emerging.
A lot more inequality because we see the difference between slaves and
Property owner citizens were viewed as fully human but not slaves, they were
not seen as human
 Even though those feudal have inequality and there was more of a reciprocal
relationship that occurred, the noble had to take care of your peasants. Because they
have the skills and knew how to provide the food. You wanted them to be healthy and
not wanting to overthrow you and murder you. there was less alienation
 Bourgeoise – different because it is not about divine right anymore, instead of
overthrowing, they were very conservative.
Capitalist merchants in between the nobles and the peasants.
They take down the feudal order but they were conservative how to distribute the
wealth and power.
This did not create more inequality but the basis on what justifies their existence
changes – not based on blood but who has more money?
Create a new class that the peasants had something to do – they knew how to
provide if someone took your land but with capitalism we are making people buy
things and not to create and make their own food because it is unnecessary
because of technology.
The capitalist only wanted to pay the workers enough to make them stay alive and
come to work the next day.
They are now expected to buy things that they could have made on their own.
We are trying to make them pay much more than what it is worth.
 Some unique aspects of capitalism
1. Accumulation of wealth – because of the constant push of paying employees
less and charging more kind of competition
2. The narrowing of the class structure –
3. Homogenization of labor – all going from different skills to factory and
learning how to operate machinery.
4. Constant competition for profit
5. Alienation – disassociation between the humans and their labor.
The individual is isolated from society, work and sense of self
Four Types of Alienation
1. Alienation from product – capitalism people don’t get to decide
how they are created and what is being produced. No creative
process – removing the person from the product.
Moving from used value to exchange value.
 Exchange value: how much money will people pay for this?
How do I build up the hype around this?
 Used value: how useful is it to the person?
2. Alienation from processes – “actually producing things” – lack of
satisfaction, lack of pride that is connected to the production.
3. Alienation from others – workers are made to compete against each
other for higher wages. You don’t want your workers to get along
and socialize. They are not encouraged to talk to each other and
hang out.
False consciousness: when you don’t know where you don’t
stand in society.
Class consciousness: awareness of your position in society.
4. Alienation from self – what we contribute to the world in terms of
our creativity – they lose their own sense of self and the human
Example, we remove our self from the work because we get
paid and our integrity is challenged.
Weber – conflict theorists
 Marx put too much emphasis on property
 Power: the ability to influence other’s lives and even your own life.
 The power to do things in our own life and to make people do things in life.
 Power over others and over yourself.
 Power in the different realms in society
Power in the economic realm – reflected through your social class in terms of the
possession of goods and money that you have.
What you can sell in a commodity market. The value of your assets
Power in the social realm – Prestige
How honorable and respectful your position is in society.
Sometimes prestige alone mattes without the steam.
Vested in your respect and showing off. Show do you show you have power in
these realms.
Power in the legal realm – Political Party
Any community that is based on gaining power through legal authority.
Durkehim – functionalist perspective
 Division of labor:
 Mechanical and organic solidarity –
 Social order – went from a society that was built on mechanical solidarity, known as
premodern type societies and economies
Mechanical Solidarity - That comes from shared experiences that everyone
works together on common tasks.
Work – social cohesion. Recognizing that there were greater equality.
Organic solidarity and modern society – ability to seek our own interest.
Like orangs of the body we all have our own specialized task and we need
each other to survive.
 The inequality emerges in the organic solidarity – but we all need each other to
function and survive.
The Great Debate: Do we need inequality?
To maintain inequality
 Without social inequality people will not do anything, they don’t have a reason to get the
job and they don’t have an incentive to do more.
Put them in the division of labor
Motivate them to do the job
 Competition is good and only the hardest workers will get into the highest position.
Lenski – hunter gatherers
 Although inequality may begin in differences in
 Inequality began in hunter gatherers because of natural ability and branches from there as
a social construction.