="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" viewBox="0 0 512 512">

Chapter 7: Social Stratification

7.5 Test Your Knowledge

1. Social stratification is the focus of Chapter 7. A system of social stratification involves the hierarchical ranking of groups in society based on their relative access to wealth, power and prestige. Another way of defining social stratification is that it is a system in which social group inequality is entrenched within the social institutions of society. Historically, there have been a total of four systems of social stratification that have existed, including slave, estate, caste and class systems. For each of these systems, write 2 sentences which outline their key traits.

2. Explain the differences between closed systems of stratification and open systems of stratification, and discuss how these systems relate to achieved and ascribed statuses.

3. According to Max Weber, social class position is based on the level of wealth, power and prestige an individual holds. Explain each of these three concepts and discuss how Max Weber’s ideas about social class differ from those of Karl Marx.

4. Functionalists argue that social stratification serves a function or purpose for society. Specifically, the theory by Davis and Moore is outlined in your text. In this theory, they argue that stratification is necessary because certain occupations are more important for society than others (i.e., neurosurgeon vs. shoe shiner) and these important occupations must offer greater rewards in order to entice people who have the skill and knowledge to strive for these positions. This ensures that these important jobs are filled by the most capable members of society. What are the criticisms levied against Davis and Moore’s theory?

5. In contradiction to functionalists, conflict theorists believe that social stratification stems from the conflict between the dominant group (bourgeoisie) and subordinate group (proletariat) over access and control of the goods, power and other resources of society. The dominant group takes advantage of their high status in order to maintain control over resources. Explain how the elite use ideology to create a false class consciousness. Give an example.

6. In your textbook, four U.S.-based social classes are discussed, including the upper, middle, working and lower classes. Complete the table below, filling in information related to the percentage of each class in the population, earnings, educational status and other information you found important.

Social Class

% of Population

Earnings Range

Educational Status

Other Facts

Upper Class

Middle Class

Working Class

Lower Class

7. Social mobility is the movement of an individual or group from one position to another within a system of social stratification. There are three types of vertical social mobility (social mobility up or down the stratification ladder) outlined in your text, including: Intergenerational, intragenerational and structural mobility. Briefly explain each and discuss the research findings on the reality of social mobility in the U.S.

8. Economic inequality refers to the extent of the economic difference between the rich and the poor. The table below, taken from your text, demonstrates economic inequality in the U.S. Interpret the table, explaining what it tells us about economic inequality.

Share of National Aggregate Income Going to Income Fifths, 1970 – 2020

Lowest 20%

Second 20%

Third 20%

Fourth 20%

Highest 20%

Top 5%

1970

4.1

10.8

17.4

24.5

43.3

16.6

1980

4.2

10.2

16.8

24.7

44.1

16.5

1990

3.8

9.6

15.9

24.0

46.6

18.5

2000

3.6

8.9

14.8

23.0

49.8

22.1

2010

3.3

8.5

14.6

23.4

50.3

21.3

2020

3.0

8.1

14.0

22.6

52.2

23.0

9. How is the poverty line calculated in the U.S.? Why is this measure seen as inadequate by many policy experts? What is twice-poverty and why do policy experts advocate using his figure instead of the poverty line?

10. In the U.S., which groups have disproportionately high rates of poverty (race-ethnicity, age, education, gender)? What explanations can you offer for these higher poverty rates?

11. Outline the differences between an individual explanation for poverty and a structural explanation for poverty. Which of these theories do you side with? Why?

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Exploring Our Social World: The Story of Us by Jean M. Ramirez, Suzanne Latham, Rudy G. Hernandez, and Alicia E. Juskewycz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book

css.php