Sociology Assignment: Relevancy of Foundational Ideas onClass to Understand Social Stratification
Task: Prepare a well-researched and well-structured sociology assignmenton the topic “To what extent foundational ideas on class is still relevant to understanding social stratification and divisions in society?”
Final Paper Content Outline:
1. You should have an introduction including your key argument/s and thesis statement, a brief background of the topic and what you will be focusing on and why. You need to clearly state your more narrowly defined focus, provide clear overview of the substantive chosen topic (and theory, if applicable) and state the 3-4 issues you will cover within your paper.
2. You should include/ discuss the key tenets of the theory or perspective chosen, including the discussion of its strengths and weaknesses.
3. The literature review should contain a discussion of how the theory or perspective relates and applies to the topic and how it helps give a better understanding of the topic.
4. You should include a discussion of possible areas that may need further research.
5. You should contain a brief discussion of the real-world examples where the theory or perspective can be applied.
6. Should contain a summary of the theory or perspective, how it tied with your topic and links you have made between the two.
7. Conclusion: Do not repeat the argument or points already discussed. Pay attention to grammar, spellings and use APA.
The meaning of society is companionship, the term has been derived from the Latin word “socius”. Individuals are said to be living in the same society when they share the same geographical boundary, shares common culture, social structure and are expected to abide by some laws. The main components of a society are its culture and social structure. Different-types of societies can be found around the world, whose social structure and cultures are different from each other (Mitchell, pp. 79-83, 2018). The language barriers and geographic distance usually differentiate societies from each other through-out the world and within a country as well. Social stratification is evident in every society in this world. Mainly two types of stratification systems can be observed globally, closed system where the social structure is to determine an individual’s rights through its birth and the open system where the individual has the freedom to move up or down in the social strata.
There was always noticeably visible social stratification system in Canada.Earlier the class divisions were very much visible in Canada, but in present times this difference is becoming vague. The two main traditional theories are Marxist theory of social class and Weberian approach to social class (Morkevi?ius&Norkus, pp. 130-135, 2017). Ownership is the main notion in Marx’s theory while Weberian approach focused on opportunity. According Marx there are two major classes such as owner class and working class. Owner class has the possession of the resources that are required for production and the working class works under the domination of the owner class with these resources to produce goods. On the other hand, Weber has emphasized on opportunities an individual receives on the basis of his education, skill and experiences. However, owning of productive resources is still the basic indicator for a person’s social strata. In Canada the main class strata’s visible are Owning class, Middle class and Working class. Better education and health facility have enabled social mobility among the Canadian individuals. Due to this mobility, there have been instances of class struggle within the same class. For instance, the “old money” and “new money” issue visible in the Owning class of Canada.
“Old money” is the individual belonged from the wealthiest families of Canada, they have received best education and other amenities in life and the “new money” are the individuals who have climbed the social ladder through their hard work. Both the individuals have almost same net worth still the old money people look down on the new money people because of they still exhibit behaviour of their previous class. These types of differences have risen many issues. Social Stratification
Individuals of every society has been stratified into different layers, this stratification is done on the basis of ownership, education and power. In Canadian society there are three main classes visible to sociologists, which are owner class, middle class and working class. The wealthiest class is known as the Owner class is one percent of the total population of Canada, these classes have access to the best education facilities of the country and also often has the power to influence the life of the individuals of the other two classes (Jarman, Lambert & Penn, p. 275, 2021). Owner class individuals may or may not have inherited all their assets from their ancestors. The next class is the middle class; individuals belonging to this class have more opportunities and amenities in comparison to working class but less resources in comparison to owner class.
Sociologists have argued to further differentiate this class, the middle class needs to sub divided into upper middle class and lower middle class. In Canada most of the upper middle-class individuals hold bachelor and post-graduate degree in subjects like medicine, business, law, and etc. on the other hand the lower middle class tends to hold associate degree from two-year community colleges and technical colleges. Thus, upper middle-class individuals acquire higher skills to earn better wage and life style, they often also earn the power to supervise the work of lower middle-class individuals and working-class individuals. Middle class individuals employ themselves in both blue coloured jobs as well as white coloured jobs. Working class individuals has lesser access to education and they earn much less income than middle class individuals. They perform less skilful tasks and do not have any power to control their social life. Most of the working-class employees are employed in blue coloured jobs.
Traditional theories for social stratification
There are majorly four traditional theories for social stratification. One was proposed by Karl Marx; in his theory the main indicator for social stratification is material ownership. Marx’s theory vividly described the class stratification in capitalist society (Hutchings, pp. 240-260, 2021). According to him there are two major classes in the society, one is the owner class which owns the majority of the productive resources like land and other equipment and working class are the individuals that work under these owner class individuals. This theory has lost its effectiveness in this modern world of industry. Now not only land is a productive resource but also intellectual properties are classified in the same division. Intellectual property is the most flexible resource in this world of internet, this type of resources has induced highest amount of structural mobility.
The other most prominent social stratification theory was proposed by Marx Weber. In his theory the emphasis has been on the opportunities that an individual receives to change their social status. The society can be divided into three main classes the upper class, middle class and lower class. Upper class individuals receive the best education and other resources thus they have higher opportunities for success. Middle class individuals have higher opportunities than the lower-class individuals; they are employed to jobs which require specialized skills. Thus, the middle-class employees perform both white coloured jobs and blue coloured jobs. The lower-class individuals have to access to the minimum education and other amenities. The lower-class individuals only perform blue collared jobs.
According to Marx’s theory both a surgeon and a TV technician belongs to the same social class, which is not effective in this modern world. Surgeon is more skilled than any normal technician, has also received specialized education for acquiring such skill. Moreover, how wealthy the surgeon becomes, will never reach the owner class according to Marx’s theory. On the other hand, Weberian theory emphasizes on individual’s education and skills to determine their social strata. Weberian theory also admits the social mobility issue visible in today’s world.
Another two important theories are Modernization theory and Dependency theory. According to Modernization theory, classes who believe in old traditions, even they are adopting modern thinking and technology to upgrade themselves which is considered as social mobilisation. That indicates it is not constant that poor will remain poor. On the other hand, dependency theory suggests that semi peripheral and peripheral societies are always exploited by the core classes, which creates a social dependence.
Strength and Weaknesses of The Relevance of Fundamental Theories Regarding Social Stratification
Strength- According to xx, fundamental ideas of social stratification or social division are important to understand what is social stratification and what is the reason behind such division in the society. It is undeniable that even the current society is facing social stratification at every step and at every moment. Even some decades ago, this stratification was more visible in Canadian society and this discrimination is determined by some variables such as inherent position, power, wealth, caste and ownership of resources. However, with passing time these variables have changed by education, money, hard work and socio-economic status. Even after the changes in determining factors, the situation remain almost same in the society. Therefore, in order to mitigate the discrimination and unwelcoming incidents caused by such discriminations, it is important to identify and to understand the reason of such social stratification. However, only with the help of these fundamental theory of social stratification, one can get a clear understanding of social division or stratification. Weakness- It is true that modern world does not prioritize social stratification based on socio-economic status, wealth, power and position. At least current society does not show its stratification or discrimination openly. In recent time, people get respect and value based on their knowledge, skills and experience rather on the basis of their wealth and power. Therefore, according to some sociologist there is no necessity of fundamental theories which are considered as conventional theories, in order to understand social stratification.
In today’s world the traditional stratification theories are not relevant for class division. Many individuals through their efforts can now to move to a higher class and gain more comfort and resources in life which is considered as social mobility.
There are no such socio-economic disadvantages of social mobility, rather a nation can boost its economy through social mobility as social mobility indicates the growth of even lower income groups towards high income. Higher social mobility minimizes the issues of unemployment and provides the facility to get better education to the comparatively lower class. Moreover, higher social mobility increases the moral values of a society which is now reflected in Canadian society. The present social mobility rate of Canada is giving positive implication in the vanishing of middle-class societies.
Due to such upward mobility the noble families feel threat of losing status to the new individuals joining the social class. This arises conflict within the class and often it has been seen that noble families insult such new comers. The phenomenon of Social Anomie is also caused due to social mobility. Social anomie is the phenomenon where higher rate of social mobility diminishes the old prevailing social standards and the new standards have not yet been developed. Individuals living in such state faces anxiety and emotional distress. This phenomenon rises crime and homicides in the society.
The social mobility is important factor in the open system of social stratification. Individuals through their personal effort have the ability to change their social structure. Better education and medical facilities in Canada have agitated the mobility in their culture. As stated by Duncan, (pp. 42-76, 2018), Social Mobility is the phenomenon where individual changes its position in the prevalent social stratification. The major movements that are visible in the Canadian society are upward movement, downward movement, intergenerational mobility and intragenerational mobility and social mobility. Majority of the Canadians believe that individuals move up or down through the strata in their own efforts and skill sets.
Upward mobility is the instance where the individual through his efforts improved his social standard. Canadians always encourage such achievements, Canadian comedian and actor Jim Carey used to live with his family in a camper during his childhood days but through his efforts he earned fame and wealth and moved up in the social strata ladder.
Downward Mobility is the instance where the individual through his doings has moved down in the social strata. Business setbacks, unemployment and illness are the major reasons for individuals’ downward mobility. School or college dropout is the major concern of downward mobility in youngsters.
Intergenerational mobility is the instance where there is difference in social class between two different generations of a family. Long-tern societal changes are seen in such instances. Many present executives of Canadian enterprises have come from middle class families who in return have reared up by working class parents.
Structural mobility is the instance where a sociological or economical change influences the social strata of a group of people. The advancement in technology has increased the standard of living of many working classes and middle-class individuals. The technological advancement in the Canadian dairy industry has forced the industry to hire engineers and technicians to maintain their machines and also had to train their previous workers in order to operate these machines. Such instance resulted in the upward mobility of the dairy workers.
The literature review is used to understand the foundational ideas of social stratification and division in society. This literature review also focuses on the relevancy of such foundational ideas on class. Social stratification can be understood through two major theories such as Modernization theory of social stratification and Dependency theory of social stratification. Yaqub, (p. 1089, 2002), suggests poor nations, society or classes remain poor as they follow their age-old traditional norms blindly and they are strictly bounded with traditional beliefs, attitudes and technologies created by their oldest institutions. On contrary, according to Nee, (pp. 1099-1100, 2018), modernization theory argues that poor nations always remain poor. This theory explains the process of modernization within a society through a transition that includes the phases such as ‘pre-modern’, ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’. Therefore, this theory suggests that traditional societies have started to adopt modern thinking and upgraded technologies to be more developed and economically rich. The strength of this theory is considered by many sociologists, as according to them social stratification is based on socio-economic status which is determined through wealth, occupational prestige, educational qualification and income. On the other hand, Lawson, (pp. 10-22, 2017), stated the primary reason of social discrimination is mainly caused by the high-income classes, who are often considered to be the core classes, which is again a term that discriminates the society. Similarly, according toKreckel, (p. 146, 2017), dependency theory suggests that upper class society or core nations exploits and dominate the low income or middle-income groups to earn more benefit and thus to hold the superior social position. This process of uninterrupted exploitation creates a cycle of dependency. However, the aim is to analyse the relevancy of these fundamental theories to understand social division and social stratification. According toMeyer, (p. 1120, 2018), social stratification is important in order to motivate the people to work hard and hold on their social positions who already belong to upper strata. However, Betthäuser, Bukodi&Bourne, (p. 233, 2021), argues that not only American society, rather modern Canadian society has started to give values only to the hard work and to the social achievements earned by an individual regardless of their existing social status. According to this modern thinking individual’s hard work and productive activities boost the economy of a society. However, this theory weakens by Max Weber’s theory where it was suggested that social stratification depends on class, status and party which all are considered as pre-existed factors. Therefore, it is clear that in this modern world, social stratification by pre-existed social position is immoral, rather stratification should be founded on the basis of capability to work hard.
Social stratification is an undeniable structure of society that forms depending on some variables such as wealth, power, ownership, socio-economic status and education. Though it varies on various sociologists, how they describe social stratification and reasons behind it. In today’s world and even in Canada social stratification is not visible, yet it exists. Therefore, it is important to identify the reasons behind such division through various relevant theories such as Marx’s theory, Weberian approach theory, Modernization theory and dependency theory.
Betthäuser, B. A., Bukodi, E., &Bourne, M. (2021). The case for studying the intergenerational transmission of social (dis) advantage: A reply to Gary Marks. The British Journal of Sociology, 72(2), 233.
Duncan, O. D. (2018). Methodological issues in the analysis of social mobility (pp. 51-97). Routledge.
Hutchings, M. (2021). Inequality, social mobility and the ‘glass floor’: How more affluent parents secure educational advantage for their children. In Educational research for social justice (pp. 137-169). Springer, Cham.
Jarman, J., Lambert, P., & Penn, R. (2021). Social stratification: past, present, and future. Contemporary Social Science, 16(3), 271-279.
Kreckel, R. (2017). “New” Social Inequalities and the Renewal of the Theory of Social Inequalities. Sociology assignment In Organization Theory and Class Analysis (pp. 137-156). De Gruyter.
Lawson, N. D. (2017). Structural stigma and discrimination against medical students and residents with suspected mental disorders. In 8th International Together against Stigma Conference. Copenhagen, Denmark (pp. 1-28). Meyer, J. W. (2018). The evolution of modern stratification systems (pp. 1116-1125). Routledge.
Mitchell, T. (2018). 2. Society, Economy, and the State Effect. In State/culture (pp. 76-97). Cornell University Press.
Morkevi?ius, V., &Norkus, Z. (2017). Towards rediscovery of social class after the post-communist transition: A comparative neo-Weberian analysis of Baltic states. Filosofija. Sociologija, 28(2), 128-138.
Nee, V. (2018). Post-socialist stratification (pp. 1098-1103). Routledge.
Yaqub, S. (2002). ‘Poor children grow into poor adults’: harmful mechanisms or over?deterministic theory?. Journal of International Development: The Journal of the Development Studies Association, 14(8), 1081-1093.