SOC 280 Discussion Stratification Systems

March 8, 2022
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SOC 280 Discussion Stratification Systems

SOC 280 Discussion Stratification Systems

Discussion Prompt 1: Discuss social mobility in the United
States. Be sure to discuss open versus closed stratification systems as well as
the different types of mobility. Also, specifically think about the factors
that affect occupational mobility and discuss how these may or may not affect you.

Discussion Prompt 2: Describe a highly publicized trial
using the sociological concepts you studied this week.

Global stratification refers to the hierarchical arrangement of individuals and groups in societies around the world. Sociologists speak of stratification in terms of socioeconomic status (SES). Socioeconomic status is a measure of a person’s position in a class structure. For example, a person may be designated as “lower class” or “upper class” based on their SES. A person’s SES is usually determined by their income, occupational prestige, wealth, and educational attainment, though other variables are sometimes considered.

Inequality occurs when a person’s position in the social hierarchy is tied to different access to resources. Inequality largely depends on differences in wealth. For example, a homeowner will have access to consistent shelter, while a person who cannot afford to own a home may have substandard shelter or be homeless. Because of their different levels of wealth, they have different access to shelter. Likewise, a wealthy person may receive higher quality medical care than a poor person, have greater access to nutritional foods, and be able to attend higher caliber schools. Material resources are not distributed equally to people of all economic statuses.

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SOC 280 Discussion Stratification Systems

SOC 280 Discussion Stratification Systems

While stratification is most commonly associated with socioeconomic status, society is also stratified by statuses such as race and gender. Together with SES, race and gender shape the unequal distribution of resources, opportunities, and privileges among individuals. For example, within a given social class, women are less likely to receive job promotions than men. Similarly, within American cities with heavily racially segregated neighborhoods, racial minorities are less likely to have access to high quality schools than white people.

Perspectives on Stratification
Stratification is generally analyzed from three different perspectives: micro-level, meso-level, and macro-level.

Micro-level analysis focuses on how prestige and personal influence create inequality through face-to-face and small group interactions. For example, the more physically attractive a person is, the more likely they are to achieve status in small groups. This effect happens on a small-scale and is difficult to analyze as a uniform, widespread occurrence. Thus, stratification based on levels of physical attractiveness is analyzed as a micro-level process.

Meso-level analysis of stratification focuses on how connections to organizations and institutions produce inequality. For example, parents, teachers, and friends convey expectations about one’s class position that teach different skills and values based on status. These educational disparities occur in the small setting of a classroom, but are consistent across a wide range of schools. Thus, they are analyzed as meso-level phenomena that reinforce systems of inequality.

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