Global Social Stratification - Introduction to Sociology - Lecture Notes, Study notes for Introduction to Sociology. Ambedkar University, Delhi

Global Social Stratification - Introduction to Sociology - Lecture Notes, Study notes for Introduction to Sociology. Ambedkar University, Delhi

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Global Social Stratification, Social Stratification, Systems of Stratification, Slavery, Caste, Basis of Social Class, Stratification Universal, Global Stratification, the ories of Global Stratification, Maintaining Glob...
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Global Social Stratification


Global Social Stratification

Social Stratification • system in which people are divided into layers reflecting their relative wealth

(property), power, and prestige – does not refer to individuals, but rather a way of ranking large groups of people that shows their

relative privileges – affects life chances – every society stratifies its members – nations of the world are stratified as well – supported by ideology (system of beliefs that justifies social arrangements)

Systems of Stratification

• slavery – early historical causes (debt, violation of law, war & conquest) and conditions (temporary in

some cases, not necessarily inheritable, not necessarily powerless & poor) – new world cause was economic and racist ideology developed to justify slavery (and continued

discrimination after civil war) • caste

– society divided into strata – individual status determined by birth and is lifelong – racial caste system replaced slavery in U.S. after civil war

• class – population divided into layers based primarily on wealth – allows for the possibility of social mobility

• gender – gender is a basis for stratification in every society – males have greater access to socially valued resources

Basis of Social Class • Marx: means of production

– bourgeoisie, proletariat – class consciousness, false consciousness

• Weber: wealth, power, prestige


Why is stratification universal? • functionalist perspective

– social positions must be filled > some positions more important than others > more important positions require more qualified people > greater reward must be offered to motivate more qualified people

– criticisms (Tumin) • lacks independent measure of “importance” • implies meritocracy which does not exist (example: college admission) • stratification is dysfunctional for many

• conflict perspective – competition for scarce resources – groups in power use social institutions to maintain disproportionate share of resources – ruling groups develop ideology to justify their position at top

• synthesis (Lenski) – functionalist perspective is accurate for less developed societies, conflict perspective is accurate

for more developed societies

How is stratification maintained?

• ideology is more important than force – controlling ideas – controlling information – social networks – technology

Global Stratification

• most industrialized nations – north america, western europe, japan, australia, new zealand – capitalist economies, 16% of population, 32% of land, very wealthy

• industrializing nations – eastern europe, russia – 16% of population, 20% of land, much lower income & standard of living

• least industrialized nations – most of latin america, africa, southern asia – 68% of population, 49% of land, extreme poverty


Theories of Global Stratification • colonialism

– industrial nations used technology & military power to exploit labor & resources of weaker nations

• economic imperialism - domination by large corporations • world system theory

– economic & political connections tie most of world’s countries together – core nations, semiperiphery, periphery, external area – globalization

• dependency theory – lack of economic development in least industrialized nations due to dominance of world

economy by most industrialized nations – supplying resources makes economies dependent on industrialized nations rather than

developing independent economies of their own • culture of poverty

– cultural elements perpetuate poverty: tradition & religion inhibit economic development – this theory is an example of “blaming the victim”

Maintaining Global Stratification

• neocolonialism: most industrialized nations use international markets to control least industrialized nations – price for natural resources, hazardous industries, foreign debt

• multinational corporations dominate economies of least industrialized nations – partnership between mnc and ruling elite to exploit labor & resources – profits accrue to mnc, not reinvested in the economic development of host countries

• new technologies controlled by most industrialized nations

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