Social stratification
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Social stratification






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  • Though defining something like ‘friendship’ is difficult, there is an anthropological view of what friendship generally involves.
  • What do you think it means to ‘maintain friendship through balanced exchange? Does this refer to economics, or deeper, more socially significant things like time and reliability?
  • Please be sure to read this ethnographic example in your text
  • We have seen a rise in agricultural and housing cooperatives in the US, but economic cooperatives are changing the lives of the impoverished- particularly women- around the world.

Social stratification Social stratification Presentation Transcript

  • Stratification
  • Social GroupsWhat is a social group?  A cluster of people beyond the domestic unit who are usually related to each other on grounds other than kinship  Varieties of Social Groups  Friendship  Clubs and fraternities  Countercultural groups  Cooperatives
  • Two Kinds of Social GroupsPrimary social group: People who interact with each other and know each other personallySecondary social group: People who identify with each other on some basis but who may never meet each other or know each other personally
  • Other CharacteristicsDegrees of formality/informality:  Vary depending on a number of socially prescribed factors (age, rank, gender, etc…)Connections to modes of livelihood:  Foragers have fewer forms of social groups than other modes  Industrial/informatic societies have a wide variety, perhaps compensating for less important role of kinship
  • Modes of Livelihood and Social Groups
  • FriendshipWhat is friendship?  Close social ties between at least two people, usually informal, voluntary, and involving face-to-face interaction (except for new forms of “friendship” through Facebook, etc.)
  • Related toMay contribute to microculturaleconomic security factors such as gender, age, class, ethnicity, and institutions Friendship Maintained through balanced Usually between exchange social equals
  • Everyday Anthropology: Making FriendsAndalucia, southern Spain  Men’s and women’s work roles shape their friendship patterns  For men, an amigo is a casual friend and this friendship is maintained in bars  An amigo(a) del verdad is a “true friend”  Men have more ‘true’ friends than women do What categories of friends do you have? Are friends in some categories “closer” or “truer” than others? What is the basis of close friendship?
  • Clubs and FraternitiesDefinition: Social groups that define membership in terms of a sense of shared identity and objectivesOften include people of same ethnic/cultural heritageProvide social and psychological support to members but have political and economic functions, too (connections, networking, jobs)
  • MaleFriendshipamong theUrban Poor ofGuyana:TheImportance ofSharingStories
  • Fraternities and SororitiesCollege fraternities and sororities in North America (the “Greek System”) are highly selective and serve a variety of functions, such as entertainment, match-making, and social serviceOften serve to reinforce class and gender norms- not always positive
  • Countercultural GroupsGroups formed by people outside the “mainstream” who resist conforming to the dominant cultural patternMembers desire to be identified with a special group  Youth gangs  Motorcycle ‘clubs’  Body modification groups
  • Youth GangsRefers to a group of young people found mainly in urban areasOften considered to be a social problem by mainstream societyVariation in terms of how organized and goalsMost/all have rituals of initiation and symbols of membership such as clothing, “colors,” tattoos
  • Study of U.S. Youth GangsFinding that personalities of youth gang members have five characteristics:  Intense competitiveness  Mistrust of others  Self-reliance  Social isolation  Strong survival instinct
  • Cooperatives A form of economic group in which surpluses are shared among the members One person, one vote Agricultural and credit cooperatives the most common forms worldwide We have seen a rise in agricultural and housing cooperatives in the US, but economic cooperatives are changing the lives of the impoverished- particularly women- around the world. 
  • Example: Farmers’ Cooperative in Western India Study of co-ops in the sugar industry in the state of Maharashtra Why successful given India’s caste system and social divisiveness?  Caste system in this region simpler: Marathas are the main caste Solidarity across class lines supports efficient use of cane processing technology Money goes back in to community
  • Social Stratification Social Stratification: results from the relatively permanent unequal distribution of goods and services in a society  No culture has ever devised a successful means of organizing a large population without stratification and inequality The ways this distribution takes place depends on:  Cultural values  The organization of production  The access that different individuals and groups have to the means for achieving societal goals
  • Social Stratification Functionalist perspective: specific cultural institutions function to support the structure of society or serve the needs of the individuals in society  Inequality and the promise of economic and social rewards lead people to engage in difficult, risky jobs, as well as jobs requiring long and arduous training  Flaw- Not all difficult jobs are prestigious  Family background, gender, ethnicity, race, social connections, and other factors play important roles in determining the sorts of opportunities available to individuals  Although social stratification may be of some benefit, it is also a source of conflict and instability
  • Social Stratification Conflict theory: social stratification is a result of the struggle for scarce goods and services (Karl Marx)  Inequalities exist because individuals and groups who have acquired power, wealth, and prestige use their assets and their power to maintain control Focusing on conflict enables us to understand some of the hidden motivations of social actors and to access institutions by their outcomes, as well as their stated intentions Conflict theorists may sometimes ignore the very real mechanisms that promote solidarity across caste, ethnic, and class lines
  • Criteria of Stratification The social stratification system of any society depends on a complex interaction of the three main dimensions of stratification:  Power: the ability to control resources in one’s own interest  Analyze the sources, channels and goals of power in each culture  Wealth: the accumulation of material resources or access to the means of producing these resources  Not all wealth is a source of prestige  Prestige: social honor or respect  Ascribed Status: social position into which a person is born. (sex, race, kinship group)  Achieved Status: social position that a person chooses or achieves (professor, criminal, artist)
  • Stratification systems Class system- a form of social stratification in which the different strata form a continuum and social mobility is possible  Class: a category of persons who all have about the same opportunity to obtain economic resources, power, and prestige and who are ranked relative to other categories Closed system- A system of stratification based primarily on ascription (caste system) Open system- A system of stratification based primarily on achievement
  • Social Class in the United States The U.S. is said to have an open class system Status depends on occupation, education, and lifestyle “The American Dream,” is based on the democratic principle of equality and opportunity for all However:  educational achievement, levels of indebtedness, income, and wealth accumulation are linked to class, “race” and ethnicity, and also social mobility  Studies show moving out of poverty or the working class is likely to take five generations  Poverty often perpetuates itself through generations
  • Social Mobility Social Mobility: movement from one social strata to another  Factors that effect social mobility include:  Life chances:  Opportunities people have to fulfill their potential in society  chance of survival and longevity  opportunities to obtain an education  opportunities to participate in cultural life  opportunities to live in comfort and security
  • Social Classes as Subcultures Many studies demonstrate that social class correlates with differences in attitudes, behavior, lifestyle, and values A social class has aspects of a subculture:  Members tend to share similar:  life experiences  occupational roles  values  educational backgrounds  affiliations  leisure activities  buying habits  religious affiliation and political views
  • Race: A Cultural Construction Race is a culturally constructed category based on perceived physical differences Racial stratification:  Occurs in societies with different culturally-constructed views of race:  In the US this is defined as binary opposition between black and white  Apartheid in South Africa: system of exclusive racial groups – black, white, colored, and Asian – that were formally segregated and treated differently in law and life
  • “Race” as Ascribed and Scientifically Invalid “We conclude that the concept of “race” has no validity as a biological category in the human species. Because it homogenizes widely varying individuals, it impedes research and understanding of the true nature of human biological variations.”  American Anthropological Association’s Statement on Race, 1996
  • EthnicitySense of group membership based on a shared sense of identity  Shared history  Territory  Language  Religion  Or combination of the aboveDiaspora population: A dispersed group living outside their original homeland
  • Culturama: The Roma of Eastern Europe Also known by the derogatory term “Gypsies” Europe’s largest minority population (7 – 9 million) Roma are 10 percent of the population of Eastern Europe History of mobility and marginality Settled Roma live in marginalized areas that lack decent housing In different countries, the status and living conditions of Roma vary Situation in Slovakia is among the worst  One-third of Roma live in osada, ghetto-like enclaves with poor housing, sanitation, and schools
  • Roma Populationin Eastern EuropeLargest Numbersin Romania,Bulgaria,Macedonia, andSlovakia
  • CasteSocial stratification system linked with HinduismBased on a person’s birth into a particular groupVarnas: 4 major social categories  Please see video link in Week 7
  • India’s Varna System: Classification Underlying the Caste/Jati System
  • Civil SocietyDiverse interest groups outside the government that organize aspects of life, and often work on behalf of underrepresented groupsVariation in terms of how free from government they actually are  Case in China of the Chinese Women’s Movement; overseen by the government, so not truly “civil society” 