Why is Social Stratification Universal?

Why is Social Stratification
Functionalist View
• Kingsley Davis & Wilbert Moore felt that
stratification in society is inevitable because:
1. Society must make certain that its positions are
2. Some positions are more important than others
3. The more important positions must be filled by the
more qualified people
4. To motivate the more qualified people to fill these
positions, society must offer them greater rewards
Example: General Motors
• Daniel F. Akerson (CEO)
• Greater responsibility
• Must answer to the
Board of Trustees
• Must answer to stock
• His actions can affect
the outcome of many
Accountable Positions
• Greater rewards for its
more demanding and
accountable positions
• Position requires more
training (college education
and testing)
• Society works better if its
most qualified people hold
its most important spots
Melvin Tumin Finds Flaws
• Tumin uses 3 arguments against functionalist
1. Functionalists say the most important positions get
the higher rewards. But how do we know that the
positions with the highest rewards are the most
– Surgeons and Garbage Collectors (both important)
– Need for independent ways to measure importance
Tumin’s Arguments
2. Functionalists felt that all positions would be
awarded by merit. But what do we really have?
• Is it true ability that goes to college or is it based
on money
• Society places men above women, which means
talent and ability holds the highest positions is not
Tumin’s Argument
3. If social stratification is so fuctional, almost
everyone should benefit from it.
• People born in poor societies and women
delegated to “women’s work” are examples of
people not maximizing their mental abilities
Conflict Perspective
• Conflict theorists feel conflict not function is the
reason why we have social stratification
• Gaetano Mosca (Italian Sociologist) felt every
society will be stratified by power
1. No society exist unless it is organized
It will always require some sort of leadership
2. Leadership means inequalities of power
Some people take leadership, some people are followers
3. Human nature is self centered
People in power will use their position to get greater rewards