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What is Social Stratification?
All societies differentiate between social groups (i.e. age, gender, class, and ethnic groups) and when these differences lead to greater status,
power or privilege for some over others this is known as "Social Stratification". Stratification means the layering of society from which a hierarchy
emerges which reflects the different ranks in terms of social influence and advantages in terms of wealth and power.
In Sociology an individuals social importance is their social status which can be gained in two ways:
ASCRIBED: given at birth (from either family i.e. inherited) or though physical, religious or cultural factors.
ACHIEVED: result of factors such as hard work, educational success, marriage, special talent or good fortune (e.g. winning the lotto)
Open societies allow for award and achievement; this is why the UK and the USA and the vast majority of democratic societies are Open
societies. The opposite of this is a Closed society where individuals social positions are ascribed (e.g. Indian Caste system).
Social Class is a stratification system mainly found in modern industrial societies. Social classes are groups of people who share a similar
economic position in terms of occupation, income and wealth as well as similar levels of education. Status and power. The Social Classes system
differs from the previous systems due to not being based on religion, law or race; simply economic factors. There is no clear distinction between
classes, all members of society have equal rights, there are no legal restrictions on marriage and societies with classes are generally open.
Measuring Social class:
The Registrar General's Scale (Used up to 2000)
National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification (2000 onwards)
The RGS was criticised for being biased towards non-manual workers. It also failed to recognise those who are unemployed and the class of a
whole family was based on the head male (the breadwinner). Workers who were located in the same class were also had very different
pay/opportunities for promo as well as it failing to distinguished between the employed and self employed. The NS-SEC recognises the
unemployed though but still fails to recognise those so rich they don't have to work