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Sociology research term paper - Essay Example

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The term social stratification is a sociological term used to describe the various differentiations or groupings of people within society. Stratification describes the different "layers" that exist in society. Heady and Muffels note that social stratification is described as the "layer Cake" view of society…
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Sociology research term paper
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Download file to see previous pages Some academics believe that stratification is the difference between equality and inequality, elitism and non elitism. Stratification introduces the idea of "hierarchy" into society. Social hierarchy can be based on the possession of different qualities in different communities, and some societies are more equal than others, but none can ever be completely unstratified as there will always be inequalities in certain areas, due to individual differences. However, in contradiction to this anthropologists have confirmed that social stratification is not as universal as once thought. Non-stratified egalitarian societies exist which have little or no concept of social hierarchy, political or economic status, class, or even permanent leadership. Also known as acephalous (or "headless") societies, the best examples of egalitarian cultures all have hunter-gatherer economies, although not all hunter-gatherers can be considered egalitarian.
In modern western society such as in the US, UK and Europe we live within a stratification system. David Grunsky describes a stratification system as; " the constellation of social institutions that generate observed inequalities." (523) The "observed inequalities" referred to generally points towards the unequally distributed resources in our society; privileged families receiving a disproportionate level of power, prestige and other valued resources. A common place saying that "money goes to money" perhaps therefore actually derives from an accepted creditable sociological theory / observation.
Grunsky highlights that the three key components of a stratification system are:
1. Institutional processes that define certain types of goals as valuable and desirable.
2. The rules of allocation that distribute those goals across various occupations.
3. The mechanisms of mobility that link individuals to positions and generate inequalities.
Inequality is thus produced by 'matching' systems; of occupation and social role to reward packages of unequal value and then the allocation of positions to individual society members to the defined positions and rewarded accordingly (Grunsky, 523)
The stratification system is very complex and multidimensional. Many types of reward can be attached to certain social roles and different sociologist theorist would advocate differing factors / rewards as being pivotal in creating social stratification. Factors which can be used to create a social hierarchy / stratified group include economic, political, cultural, social honorific, civil and human factors. There are different types of stratification systems, each dependant on a differing factor. Examples include:
Tribalism within a hunting and gathering society, created by human factors such as hunting and magic skills.
Slavery within a horticultural and agrarian society, created by economic factors (human property).
A Caste society created by honorific and cultural factors (Hinduism)

And, most relevant in Western industrial society:
A Class system created by economic factors and supported by Classical and Liberalism ideology.
Socialism created by political factors and supported by Marxism and Leninism ideology. (Meyer, 523)

In modern industrialised society there is a class system in operation, as a stratification system it is generally acknowledged as a system of inequality. The class system of stratification is the source of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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