Social Stratification

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Social Differentiation
and Social
Stratification
Status: socially
defined position in a
group or society.
Social
Differentiation:
process by which
different statuses in
any group develop.
Social Stratification:
fixed arrangement in
society by which
groups have different
access to resources,
power, and perceived
social worth.
Forms of
Stratification



Estate System: the elite have
total control over societal
resources, including property
Caste System: assigned to an
individual at birth.
Class System: possibility of
changing over time, based on
achieved status.


Social class is the
social structural
position that groups
hold relative to
economic, social, and
political, and cultural
resources of society.
Life Chances:
opportunities that
people in a particular
class have in
common, education,
jobs, housing

Measures that represent concepts:
 Income
 Education level
 Occupation
 Place of residence
 Material goods
* Race
* Gender
* Ancestry

18-19th centuries in Western Europe
 Enlightenment (the Age of Reason)
 Positivism: accurate observation and description,
not religious dogma or unfounded speculation
 Humanitarianism: human reason can improve
society for all
Auguste Comte (1789 – 1857) – coined the phrase “sociology”
– believed in careful observation of human behavior to
uncover laws of social behavior
Alexis de Tocqueville (1805 – 1859) – Democracy in America
Harriet Martineau (1802 – 1876) – Society in America
Emile Durkheim (French, 1858 - 1917):
People in society are held together by shared belief systems. Social
facts exist outside individuals and exist to constrain behavior, a
collective reality. Basis for “functionalism.”
Karl Marx (German, 1818 - 1883)
Society is shaped by economic forces, with the system of capitalism
(which is class-based) dictating individual behavior.
Max Weber (German, 1864 - 1920)
Society has 3 basic dimensions: economic, political, and cultural. In
looking at society, one is already a product of it, thus objectivity should
be emphasized even though it is flawed. Verstehen = understanding
social behavior from point of view of participants. Scientific approach.


American and European sociologists both
conceived society as an “organic metaphor” –
society is constantly evolving.
American sociology was built on the earlier
work of the Europeans, but distinctive
American flavor: Pragmatism



Social Darwinism: e.g. William Graham
Sumner (1840-1910) claimed that survival of
the fittest=concept justified the inequities in
society (social evolution)
Social Telesis: e.g. Lester Frank Ward (18311914) claimed that human intervention in
natural evolution of society would advance
interests of society.
industrialization, urbanization




Method of approaching sociology that
developed at the University of Chicago
Charles Horton Cooley, George Herbert
Mead: individual identity developed through
people’s understanding of how they are
perceived by others.
Robert Park: city/neighborhood boundaries
Jane Addams: founder of the Hull House
W.E.B DU BOIS (1868 – 1963):
cofounder of the NAACP
(1909),
Ph.D. from Harvard (first one
awarded by Harvard to an
African-American)
Asst. Professor of Sociology
at University of
Pennsylvania (had to live in
the settlement he was
studying)


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Functionalism: emphasizes the stability and
integration in society
Conflict Theory: sees society as organized
around the unequal distribution of resources,
held together by power and coercion
Symbolic Interaction: emphasizes role of
individuals in giving meaning to social
behavior, thereby creating society
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