Social Stratification

Social Differentiation
and Social
Status: socially
defined position in a
group or society.
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
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
Ph.D. from Harvard (first one
awarded by Harvard to an
Asst. Professor of Sociology
at University of
Pennsylvania (had to live in
the settlement he was
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