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    Different Perspectives of Social Stratification

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    Stratification is the arrangement or classification of something into various sections. Three categories of stratification are social class, race/ethnicity and gender. Ferris & Stein’s book The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology states that social stratification one form or another is present in all societies this means that members of a given society are categorized and put into groups which are then put in its social hierarchy. individuals may be grouped based on their gender, race, social class, age or other characteristics depending upon whatever criteria are considered essential to that society (2014, p.182.)

    The reason stratification is significant to an individual is because their experience in society is greatly impacted by which category, they associate themselves to. For example, an individual whose gender is male may have a higher income than a woman who has the same occupation as him, but due to the stratification category of gender the male will have a different experience in society than the woman. Stratification is also important for groups. Stratification depicts the manner by which various groups of individuals are put into society. The status of groups of individuals is regularly dictated by how society is stratified. Social class can play an important role in group stratification.

    Groups of people who are of a low social class tend to live close to those who have the same social status. Also because of this it can cause groups of people of the same race/ethnicity to marry each other because they don’t interact a lot with people of different social classes. The categories of stratification also play a vital role on an individual’s social experience because they might be treated differently by society based on their social class, gender or race. Some examples are that men might be hired instead of a woman for a job because of gender or someone being discriminated because of their race.

    Functionalist Perspective

    Even though there could be some dysfunctions because of stratification, a functionalist would view stratification as a positive aspect of society, since it enhances stability in a society. One of the central claims that structural functionalist use is the Davis Moore Thesis. (Lathe, 2020) The thesis argues that stratification has positive impacts for the operation of society, it propels individuals to work hard, and guarantees that key statuses are only taken up by exceptionally competent individuals. There are a couple of functions that would apply in relation to stratification. The main one would probably be the obvious assumption that without inequality those who are not that wealthy would not strive for more success, therefore stratification encourages those at the bottom of society to work harder to move up the chain of society.

    This perspective may look good in theory but unfortunately there are many flaws to functionalist perspective. A dysfunction associated with functionalist perspective is that those who work harder than others doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be better rewarded in society. For example, you can have individuals who are not capable of having key statuses in society, but for the simple reason that they were born in an elite family almost certainly assures them a good life. Another very important factor that results in a dysfunction is gender and race. Ferris & Stein expresses that a functionalist would argue that “women are naturally more nurturing and thus make better nurses and teachers of young children. Men are naturally more logical and thus make better lawyers and computer programmers” (2014, p.255.) But it is obvious that gender inequality is still a major issue. (2014, p.257.)

    Gendered occupations have extensive ramifications for instance doctors frequently earned at least four-fold the amount of a nurse, so when women make up 90% of all nurses yet just 30% all physicians and surgeons. (2014, p.257.) Also, by seeing this situation in a social context you will realize that some individuals have more obstacles than others. For some individuals their hard work is not always payed off because of where they live, therefore where you are placed in society effects your social experience.

    Conflict Perspective

    A conflict perspective would view stratification as a way of promoting inequality. (Lathe, 2020) This point of view would contend that stratification happens through clash between different social classes, with the higher classes utilizing their power to take a bigger portion of their social resources. Stratification creates inequality which is harmful to society because it creates a fixed system of winners and losers. The conflict around stratification is that a capitalist financial rivalry unreasonably benefits the rich, who have the ability to execute an unfair system that attempts to further their potential benefit. Conflict theory argues that stratification is dysfunctional. The two main groups in conflict are the elites, who are very wealthy and hard-working people that live paycheck to paycheck.

    The reason they are at conflict is because of the unfair inequality. Social mobility is not as easy as functionalist might believe. According to the book (2014, p.198.) Social mobility is the movement of individuals or groups within the hierarchal system of social class. Also, not every person gets the equal amount of opportunity for social mobility, in a closed system such as the caste system, which is used in India, there is very little opportunity for social mobility. Additionally, conflict theorists believe that the stressed working connection among employers and employees still exists. Capitalist possess the power of production, and a system is set up to make them rich and keep laborers poor.

    Symbolic Interactionalist

    For an individual using a symbolic interactionist perspective, stratification would be seen by how social standing influences individuals’ interactions and how the idea of ‘social class’ is developed and kept up through everyday interactions A persons spot in a system of stratification is essential to an individual’s identity and sense of self. The best classification of stratification to clarify this would be social class. an individual’s identity is molded by stratification because of the fact that individuals interact with other people who share a similar social standing. As a result of social stratification individuals usually live, work, and interact with others who share their equivalent income level. People create their sense of self because that an individual’s appearance mirrors their apparent social standing. Housing, clothing, and transportation show economic status, as do taste in accessories, and personal style. A person who wears expensive clothing and own an expensive house an expensive car creates their sense of self, as an individual who is successful and helps their self-esteem and confidence.

    Critical Thinking Analysis

    Based on the information, I believe that the conflict theory would be the most ideal perspective for understanding stratification, because it exposes the flaws of stratification, by shining light on the inequality it creates. It understands how the different categories of stratification can impact an individual’s way of life in a society. Conflict theorists attempt to shine light on the inequalities caused by stratification. For example, how a rich society can have such a large number of poor individuals. Also, why a certain occupation gets paid more than others like why athletes make more money than educators. and how not everyone that works hard is rewarded equally. The benefit of using all three perspective is that you get a better understanding of the pros and cons of stratification.

    For example, functionalist encourage stratification by arguing that inequality is acceptable in society because some people work harder than others, also stratification encourages those at the bottom of society to work harder. On the other hand, a conflict perspective emphasizes that stratification benefits just a few people, not the entirety of society. Likewise, it creates conflict between poor people and the rich. The symbolic interactionalist perspective shows how stratification effects an individual’s identity and sense of self. Using all three of these perspectives relates to critical thinking because you get to examine the arguments explaining why stratification is acceptable in society as well as the negative impact it has, such as social inequality, thus you are critically thinking to create a better understanding for yourself about stratification.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    Different Perspectives of Social Stratification. (2022, Feb 16). Retrieved from

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