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What are the major dimensions of social stratification?

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What are the major dimensions of social stratification? For one to attempt the question, "what are the major dimensions of social stratification?" , one must first define the term social stratification. Social stratification is often used interchangeably with social inequality and one must distinguish between the two terms. Social inequality refers to the existence of socially created inequalities. Social stratification is a form of social inequality, however, social inequality does not inevitably lead to social stratification. It is define as the presence of distinct social groups which are ranked one above the other in terms of factors such a prestige and wealth. These factors are called valued resources. In hunting and gathering societies, social inequality is minimal and stratification absent. Members of this type of society, more or less, had equal access to valued resources. They also had equal life chances which are chances to obtaining thing that are valued in society. These societies are known as "egalitarian societies". However, it can be stated that in these types of societies, individuals may have higher status or greater prestige than others. A good hunter may be highly esteemed but his as a hunter does not automatically give him a superior life style, neither does he pass his prestige to his offspring. As society developed from hunting and gathering societies to more industrialized societies, individuals now have unequal access to value resources. ...read more.


Marx argued that political power comes from economic powers. By this, he means by the superstructure of society is shaped by economic powers, the relation of production would be reproduced in the superstructure and therefore, the ruling class in relation to production would reflect the superstructure. Therefore the political and legal systems would be based on the ruling class interest. He also explain the difference between a "class in itself" and a "class for itself". A class in itself is a social group whose members share the same relationship to the means of production while a class for itself occurs when a social group fully becomes a class. The members have class consciousness and class solidarity. Class consciousness means that the false class consciousness, a picture created by the ruling class ideology, is now replaced with the real picture of the nature of exploitation and class solidarity is the uniting of the members of a class. Marx believed at the final stage of class consciousness and class solidarity, members will realize that collective action is the only way they can overthrow the ruling class. Like Marx, Weber also stressed the importance of economic factors in determining the class position of individuals. However, he felt that there were other criteria as well. He saw that stratification as resulting from struggle for economic resources but also prestige and power. ...read more.


He saw economic class as the result of group formation in society. Weber agreed with him but also identified two more factors for group formation. These were status and power. Unlike Marx and Weber, Parsons and Davis & Moore, functionalists, believe that stratification is as an integrated structure. Parsons believe that it is derived from common values and if they exist, then the persons who perform successfully are ranked higher in society. Therefore stratification is inevitable because value consensus is essential to all societies and therefore stratification would result in the ranking of individuals in terms of common values. Davis and Moore saw stratification as a mechanism of role allocation and performance where it places the most talented persons into the most important positions and these positions are determined by two factors which are the degree of uniqueness and the degree of dependency. Saunders of the New Right perspective, believed that stratification as beneficial to society by motivating people to work because of the unequal distribution of rewards. He states in societies where there is equal distribution of rewards, force must be used to get people to work. He also identifies three different equalities in society, i.e. legal equality, equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. In concluding, it can be said that the best perspective was Weber's perspective. He identified three reasons for group formation. These were social/economic class, status, and power. Therefore on can conclude that these are the major dimensions of social stratification. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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