System Which Ranks Categories Of People In Hierarchy

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Social Stratification: Social stratification refers to a system by which a society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy. In the United States, it is perfectly clear that some groups have greater status, power, and wealth than other groups. These differences are what led to social stratification. Social stratification is based on four major principles:

  1. Social stratification is a trait of society, not simply a reflection of individual differences.
  2. Social stratification persists over generations.
  3. Social stratification is universal (it happens everywhere) but variable (it takes different forms across different societies).
  4. Social stratification involves not just inequality but beliefs as well (inequality is rooted in a society’s philosophy).


Social stratification can be examined from different sociological perspectives: functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism. The functionalist perspective states that systems exist in society for good reasons. Conflict theorists observe that stratification promotes inequality, such as between rich and poor. Symbolic interactionists examine stratification from a micro-level perspective. They observe how social standing affects people’s everyday interactions and how the concept of “social class” is constructed and maintained through everyday interactions.

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For example, Today’s Rockefellers still enjoy the wealth and status gained by family members in the late 19th century. On the other hand, some families of former slaves still struggle. The U.S. stratification system is based on socioeconomic status or SES. SES is a categorization formula that considers a person’s income, education, and occupation. Our society places a higher value on wealth, higher education, and occupations that require advanced degrees. I see a lot in today’s society that people who have rich are considered ‘special’ whereas if you are poor you are treated like you don’t belong to society. Even social stratification can be seen in the education area where many rich parents just have to show their money and their children get the degrees without even going to college, whereas middle-class parents’ children have to work harder to get what they want in their lives.

Social Stratification affects daily life in many ways. consumption, work, routine, leisure, etc. Social stratification influences the daily interactions of individuals because they go to work with the people who share the same income level as they do, and depending on the job they work at, the same ethnic background. Systems of class influence my own daily routines because I interact with people who share the same cultural and ethnic background as I do. I work with people who are also college students attending community college, and students at community colleges choose this type of school because they cannot afford universities because the universities cost a lot as compared to community colleges.


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