SOCIAL AND POLITICAL STRATIFICATION: SOCIAL DESIRABLES Objectives At the end of this lesson, you are expected to: At the end of the session, the students should be able to: 1. Identify and eventually determine the different social desirables. 2. Realize the impact and implications of wealth, power and prestige in the society. 3. Formulate a creative output towards the understanding and application of social desirables Your financially-challenged friend is a service crew at a wellknown fast food chain. The management considers him as the best member in the area. One time, the owner came to visit the store. Your friend was assigned to assist, but instead of successfully aiding the owner, he made numerous mistakes and failures throughout the site visit. In your perspective, what made your friend fail at such simple task? Is there a difference in terms of power between the service crew and the owner? [ Society is divided into several groups or classes that are different from each other in terms of socioeconomic capability. In the previous example, it was clear that there was a difference in social class between the worker and the owner, thus making interaction varied and complicated. This difference can be accounted by social desirables, a sociological concept that exists in all societies. Social and Political Stratification The dictionary defines stratification as 'something that has been arranged into categories.' SOCIAL STRATIFICATION refers to the kind and degree of distribution of resources within a social system. Examples: wealth, status, prestige, and privilege POLITICAL STRATIFICATION is best explained as the extent to which such inequalities are enclosed in, or influenced by, political structures and processes. Examples: involving influence, authority, or power The Meaning and Characteristics of Social Desirables SOCIAL DESIRABLES are factors that affect social stratification. A social hierarchy exists because of the unequal distribution of social desirables—property, power, and prestige—in a society where the larger population of financially-challenged individuals have less social desirables than the smaller group of rich people. The following describes each social desirable: WEALTH: income-producing assets that people own (e.g. real estate) that increase financial wealth POWER: the capacity to influence individuals or activities to achieve wealth and prestige PRESTIGE: an individual’s status among his peers in society The Meaning and Characteristics of Social Desirables These three factors dictate one’s place in society. Ideally, the greater social desirable a person has denotes a higher position in society. Because social desirables come hand in hand, more top class people become well-known and influential in society and, as such, are treated with greater care and professionalism. Examples: Service quality in high-end restaurants significantly differ from casual dining venues. In significant societal functions, good seats are usually reserved for high-ranking individuals. People quickly follow trends set by powerful and influential people. The Role of Social Desirables in a Functionalist Perspective In a FUNCTIONALIST SOCIETY, all social elements are seen as contributing factors in reaching social equilibrium and balance. Social desirables serve as rewards for fulfilling certain social goals. Inequality is seen as universal and, therefore, allows unequal distribution of power, prestige, and property without disrupting the social structure. The most important positions in society are rewarded the most. The Role of Social Desirables in a Conflict Perspective A CONFLICT PERSPECTIVE views the attainment of social desirables as a constant competition for scarce resources. Inequality greatly exists in a society that drives people to compete for resources, resulting to social change and continuous conflict. People with social desirables are given more importance and priority than ordinary workers and individuals. Social desirables dictate how one should be treated in a society of inequality. Explore! Nowadays, people who have power, prestige, and wealth are not limited to politicians or businesspeople. They extend to local and international celebrities who were found to be hugely influential especially among young populations. Being part of the youth yourself, how do think these celebrities influence your peers? Do they affect you positively or negatively? Try it! List down ten people you know. These may be celebrities, relatives, friends, or anyone you know. On a sheet of paper, create three columns and label them "Higher", "Middle", and "Lower" respectively. Try to categorize the names you have identified into one of the categories you have made. Note that a person may only fall under one category. Once you have already categorized all names, identify the reasons why you placed them in your chosen category. What do you think? Can all social desirables be passed on from one generation to another? Why? Why not? Tips Social class may change depending on social desirables. For instance, if a poor person won big in the lottery and managed to develop successful businesses from his winnings, then he is most likely to belong to a higher class than he did before. Power, prestige, and property do not necessarily need to be at high levels at the same time. A person, for example, may have power or influence at societal issues but do not necessarily have properties at par with business people, yet he remains to be at a high social position.