Social Stratification

  • Created by: owen_345
  • Created on: 07-05-19 19:16

What is social stratification, social mobility and

Social class is defined by a person’s role in a society depending on numerous factors including health housing and capital. For instance, if a person was to have a lower social class, they would have poorer health, have poor housing conditions and in some causes no housing and they would have either lower income/wealth or none, state benefit possibly.

Social mobility is where an individual can improve their life chances, through motivation they can change their social class through institutions that control and maintain the social system, which is an open system in the UK. There are two main types of social mobility, one being intragenerational mobility where a person can change their class or intergenerational mobility where mobility changes from one generation to another.

Social stratification is where a society can be classed as having layers, this is where an individual can move up or down a social stratum to better their social class.

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What are key features in functionalisms approach?

One of the most known analogies within sociology is the human body compared with society by Durkheim. This says that all components in society are mandatory to keep the others working, for example inequalities that become evident through social stratification are mandatory because if there aren’t for example any bin men then there will be nobody to clean the streets, functionalists argue that bin men wouldn’t have the skills or the knowledge to take over from a heart surgeon. What this means is that functionalist theorists argue that an individual has a role within a society, they have a particular set of skills and educational attainment which puts them within that roles. Someone who is upper class will have a higher educational achievement, higher life chances and higher economical income, compared to the lower classes.

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What are the strengths and weaknesses of the funct

. Functionalism argues that inequalities persist in society because each person has a different role, and within this different role is a different skill set and within that it is an entirely different class, which creates class division. Functionalists also argue that meritocracy is achievable, for example those who are in lower classes or even middle classes will be able to achieve more for themselves, educationally and work position and this will give them a higher reward the higher they improve themselves in the eyes of a society.

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What research supports this? Plus S+W

Moore and Davis concluded that people are allocated certain roles in a society due to a list of different factors, for example if an individual doesn’t have the right qualifications or opportunities they will be listed in social strata as being an unskilled worker. This is seen as unequal but fair because they aren’t seen to have had worked hard enough for a higher paying role with higher benefits. They argued that only the hard working could benefit from meritocracy and also argues that it exists along with social mobility. They say that people hold different skills and therefore do different jobs. Davis and Moore support functionalist theory by saying that people with different skills belong in different social classes for example a cleaner couldn’t be a fireman because this takes great courage and extensive training and a completely different skill set compared to what qualifies being a cleaner.

However, there are some disadvantages within functionalist theory, the first being that other sociologists would critic the theory that every component in society is essential, most importantly to social class inequality being essential for a society to work in harmony and in integration.

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Key Features of Marxism

Marxism has two main social classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie are the means of production they own everything from the media to the workers – the proletariat. The proletariat don’t have anything to give to a society in terms of Marxism apart from their labour. This labour that they sell for a wage is exploited by the bourgeoisie and they work for less than adequate wages. Marxism would argue that a functioning, equal society would be under a communism, where there is only one social class and that social class lives in a community that helps to give to the collective good of that community. However, Marxism argues this could never happen unless a revolution was to take place and over throw capitalism. Marxists argue that there is no such thing as meritocracy and that the social system is unfair, mostly the reason behind the proletariat being exploited by the bourgeoisie. Meritocracy is a myth within Marxism mostly because it sees a society where unskilled labour goes unnoticed and unrewarded. With the bourgeoisie owning the means of production the proletariat are powerless in regards to their own wages or to participate in social mobility, Marxists would argue that they are not given the opportunities to own or become another class because of capitalism and what is portrays. Instead of trying to achieve social mobility Marxism wants there to only be one class, where everyone is fair, everyone is equal and there are no class divisions which they argue there are now, and this is simply due to capitalism. Marxism comes with a single solution to the problem of social class and that is for proletariat to come out of the sense of alienation, comes together and over throw capitalism.

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Research that supprts Marxism

The study to support Marxism was conducted by Kingsley and Reisler. They showed statistics that showed only 7% of over 25-year olds owned their own home in 1970. They also had shown that there was a growth in economic gain which was mostly in the top 10% of the elite which does not show any economic gain or attainment for properties by the working classes, which supports Marxism’s theory that the bourgeoisie own everything, even the proletariat.

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Strengths and weaknesses of marxism

Marxism weaknesses includes religion Marxists argue that in a Marxist society people would not be able to practise an organised religion, because the propose of a religion is for someone higher up to control a collective amount of people to practise the religion would not be allowed but are given the right to believe it exists. Another weakness is private ownership, because members of a Marxist community would be all in all equal, they would provide to the collective good. You would be able to stay in a house on land but would never be able to privately own this land.

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Comparisons of functionalism vs marxism

Marxism and functionalism agree on some points, they are both macro, structural theories one of the only differences being is that Marxism is a conflict approach whereas functionalism is a consensus. Another being the believe in the purpose of socialisation to maintain a society. However, they don’t agree on social class, or the purpose of equality/ inequality. Marxism states it is not needed and everyone should be equal whereas functionalism states that it is needed to society can function.

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Social Stratification

N. Hill. Functionalism v Conflict Theory v Symbolic interactionism. The nick of times. 3rd January 2015. [Accessed: 07/04/2019] Available:

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