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Stratification Definition

Social stratification is an inequality in society due to power, prestige, or wealth. This

inequality could be caused by inheritance (ascribed) or own effort (achieved. Sociology focuses

on four major system: slavery, caste, estate, and class. In slavery, slaves belongs to powerful

individuals who can treat them as they want. Slavery reflects ascribed status, but it is open to

change. A child who was born as a slave could get freedom. Caste system has a very clear

boundary which relation between levels are regulated. Caste system reflects ascribed status and it

will be permanent forever (closed). Estate system divides power in society into three sectors: the

church, the nobility, and the commoners. It was developed in medieval Europe. Estate system

focuses how powerful individuals and kings owned the land and the peasant lease from them.

Estate system reflects ascribed and it is likely to be closed. The nobles inherit their title and

property, and there was little commoners could do to change their lot in life. In class social

system, individuals’ status is determined by their own personal effort. Thus, social class system

reflects achieved status and it is open to any changes, depending on the individual’s effort to

change his or her status. In today’s society, we focus on the social class system where individuals

are able to move up their status.

According to Karl Marx, the means of production are all elements needed for production

process, such as labor, land, and machines. Powerful individuals own factories, machines, and

land. On the other hand, powerless people use their energy to produce products for the owners to

get paid. The bourgeoisie are the capitalist class who have a lot of resources, such as factories,

land, and machines. The proletariat are the working class who work for the bourgeoisie. The

bourgeoisie make a lot of profit from the labor of the working. On the other hand, the working

class only make little money. Karl Marx shows others the ideas of false consciousness and class
consciousness. When individuals realize that they’re being treated unequally, they realize that

they have a grasp on the idea of class consciousness. When individuals assume that they

themselves as individuals is what’s causing the inequality, such as individual factors, that’s when

they think of the false consciousness concept. Karl Marx thought that a revolution world would

occur when people have a sense of class consciousness. However it has not yet occur since

capitalism shapes the values of norms and societies which goes directly against the concept of

class consciousness. The cultural practices and believes that benefits the powerful would be

known as dominant ideology.

Since Marx’s idea and concept of power only focuses on the rights of means of

production, Weber opinionates that his concepts are too narrow. Weber argues that power is

multidimensional consisting of class, status, and party. Class refers to a group of people who

have similar level of economic resources, such as material resources and skill knowledge in

market place. For example, a person’s class position is determined by how much stocks, land,

and money he has. Status group refers to people who have similar level of prestige. This status

depends on how others view us, whether negative or positive. For example, people view a

physician as more prestigious than a secretary. Party refers to capability to achieve goal by

organizing well. An example of this is how Martin Luther and his team organized their

movement to achieve civil rights. Karl Marx views social class as the inequality between the

powerful and powerless. On the other hand, Weber views social class as individuals with similar

interest and occupations. Karl Marx believes that the division of labor would make skilled labor

less valuable under capitalism. On the other hand, Weber believes that labor can enhance their

skills by going to school, and employers would enjoy this enhancement.
Cultural capital is our language, attitude, taste, view, and that we exchange by interacting

with others. Culture capital is linked to class difference. For example, upper class individuals are

more educated and know how to speak and act properly. They also afford to buy nice and

expensive clothes to look sophisticated. On the other hand, lower class individuals does not have

enough educated, so they do not know how to speak and act properly. They cannot afford to buy

appropriate clothes. Cultural capital is linked to power. For example, upper class individuals

have connection and networking that open the doors for their opportunities. On the other hand,

doors to opportunity are closed for lower class individuals due to bad connection and bad image.

Cultural capital is the external appearance projected to society. Culture capital reinforces the

class and power differences between the upper and lower class. For example, upper class

individuals lives in luxury houses, while lower class individuals live in old apartments. Upper

class individuals go abroad for vacation, while lower class individuals just go camping near their

place. Upper class individuals play golf as sport, while lower class individuals just running

around their area. Upper class individuals buy their outfit in designer boutique, while lower class

individuals buy their outfit in ROSS.