Discuss the Problem of Social Stratification in the World Today - Paper Example

Published: 2023-08-24
Discuss the Problem of Social Stratification in the World Today - Paper Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Racism Discrimination Social psychology Social issue
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1833 words
16 min read

In almost every society, a group of people seeks to classify people in hierarchical order as either superior or meek. The said process is known as social stratification. Social stratification is carried out based on race, social class, gender, ethnicity, age, education, and many more. All the people who share a common trait get ranked together either higher or lower in the hierarchy. Society tends to deem a group of people as more important than others. The practice can only become considered as stratification if the community acknowledges it. Hence human biological traits like intelligence, height, and good looks are not social stratification; they are familiar qualities to almost everyone. Thus, the norm basing is on the mental attitude of people within a community towards others.

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Social stratification leads to inequality – subsequently leading to discrimination. People whom the society has classified as superior enjoy more privileges than those who rank lower in the hierarchy. This paper analyses the social stratification in society. Furthermore, the article looks at the history of stratification. In addition to that, the modern-day context to social stratification - using Ireland as the case study gets evaluated. Moreover, the document shall look at some of the formulated theories that try to explain society’s social stratification system.

Historical Aspect of Social Stratification

The topic of social stratification is about how humans get ranked in society hierarchically. Most of the time, the forces driving how people get classified include wealth and power. It is imperative to note that factors like wealth and power pass down from one generation to the other – with families ensuring their position in the hierarchy remains on top forever (Berry, 2016). In fact, in Weber’s theory, he notes that the higher the status and social class, the more powers an individual has to make a decision. Furthermore, the high an individual is in the hierarchical ruling chain, the more influence he/she has in making critical decisions.

When hunting wild animals and gathering wild fruits and honey was the primary form of livelihood – everybody worked collaboratively to fend for the whole community. Since communities in ancient times worked and owned everything as a group, there was no inequality of any kind. However, the change of lifestyle to farming and trading made people stay in a single place – thus enabling others to own more than others. That marked the beginning of social stratification. The norm got widened further by the introduction of industrialization and postindustrial societies. The gap between the high and low in the social hierarchy keeps on expanding daily – as a result of the richer getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

There were a couple of forms in which social stratification manifested itself in ancient times. One way people got ranked in ancient times is by basing on a master-slave relationship. Slavery one system of stratification since slaves’ position in the society was that of being subject to their master. Some of the contributing factors to slavery included the inability to pay off debts. Another system of ancient stratification is the estate system—the estate system comprised of the rich people who sat at the top of the hierarchy. The rich ensured all their wealth passed down from generation to generation through inheritance. Furthermore, the clergy who had more status than the masses sat in the middle of the hierarchy. Then lastly, some commoners got ranked lowest in the estate stratification system.

Theories of Social Stratification

Sociologists have tried formulating the theories that explain the origin of social stratification. One of the earliest methods got formulated by Karl Marx, who states that society has only two classes of people. These classes include the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie is the people who own all the means of production and business, whereas the proletariat is the class of people employed by the bourgeoisie (Kerbo, 2017). Marx thought that the people who work for those who own businesses would create a revolution only for the unions that support such workers to crop up. Furthermore, Max Weber further adds to Marx’s theory by arguing that an individual’s social class can only get determined by power and prestige. He also notes that power and wealth make someone climb the social class since people tend to respect those people with a lot of wealth.

Another surprising theory is that of sociologists Kingsley Davis and Wilbert Moore. The two socialists argue that social stratification is crucial in balancing society. The two states that simple work like cleaning does not require any specialization (Kerbo, 2017). However, complex jobs like road engineers require years of training – that is why people with such skills deserve more power, prestige, and money. Hence, the social stratification challenges youngsters to work hard in life so that they move to the top of the hierarchy.

General Modern-Day Context to Human Stratification and How It Has Developed Through History

Although the world has significantly changed in terms of modernization and civilization, stratifications persist in many communities globally (Kerbo, 2017). The three main human stratifications that are in existence in the modern world include slavery, class, and caste system. Slavery is among the most common form of social stratification that still exists to date. Despite the humanitarian intervention, there are millions of people who still live under slavery. Some of the slavery systems in existence today include sex slavery and forced labor. Those people still living and slavery fall under the category of the third-social class, popularly known as the lower in the westernized nations (Kerbo, 2017).

Furthermore, slavery stills take center stage under global stratification. It is now common to find superpower nations invading and dictating weaker nations. Immanuel Wallerstein notes that, as the world continues getting industrialized, capitalism has become the persistent economic system. The same analogy is supported by Michael Harrington, who argues that industrialized nations tend to exploit weak countries for economic and political reasons.

On the other hand, a caste system is a form of social stratification whereby individuals identify themselves by social status - based on the family, race, gender, nationality, and many more. Society categorizes people based on their state of birth – with some people are born in humble backgrounds, whereas others are born in families that run empires. Caste is the worst form of ranking people since it identifies people by default fate of either poverty or riches. No matter how hard one works, it is most likely that the individual will end up retaining their social status forever. Furthermore, the caste system dictates the kind of work an individual does. It is common to find people marrying and socializing with people with whom they share official status. The pertinent issues witnessed in the caste system include racial discrimination, gender discrimination, and inequality, among others. The westernized countries categorize the caste system as; the ruling class being the upper class, middle class, and finally, the lower class.

Another form of social stratification is the class system. This system tends to give preferential treatment to specific individuals, whereas others get oppressed. It is systematic oppression that seeks to ensure the top class always remains dominant, and the subject continues being subordinate forever. According to Connelly, Gayle & Lambert, the class system assigns certain people particular characteristics of worth and ability depending on how they get ranked on the social class (2016). Some of the factors that define the class system include possession of money, wealth, and power. The class system places people who become born in low-income families – since those kinds of children do not have access to the best resources. Furthermore, the class system makes other people get some favors while undergoing the process of employment.

Irish Context to Human Stratification

Ireland is one of the countries that are doing fine in terms of gross domestic product. It is doing better than superpowers like the United States. However, it is surprising to note that the country has the highest level of social stratification. Although the Irish people are living in denial, the discrimination continues persisting. The areas that continue witnessing social stratification in Ireland include education, health, and administration of justice, leadership, and the distribution of resources among its citizens.

Although Ireland denies that classes of people do not exist, there are three distinct classes: the upper and middle classes and the working class. Furthermore, there are those people who are not employed formally or informally – the unemployed (Weckroth, Kemppainen & Dorling, 2017). The lowest in the hierarchy are those people with absolutely no employment. The lower class is those people who work in the informal sector. On the other hand, the middle class has passed through higher education and is currently working as a professional in white-collar jobs. The top-class is the highest in the hierarchy and controls all the critical decisions (Weckroth, Kemppainen & Dorling, 2017). Health services are one of the sectors that shows discrimination. Those people who go to the hospital but do not have money – do not receive immediate treatment like that of wealthy people. It is even worse not that the sector is denying any of it, but doing it openly in front of everyone. Thus, this form of discrimination has concurred with Weber’s theory of social stratification.

Another sector that continues experiencing the menace of discrimination and categorizing of people in the education sector. This sector is the worst hit since stratification starts at the level of school to the higher institutions of learning. The lowest level exhibit stratification by prioritizing children with money over those from a poor background. Furthermore, those children from humble backgrounds do not enjoy the same level of learning as those from the middle and top-class (Lesley, 2018). Most of the time, the children from humble backgrounds are more worried about putting food on the table than sparing time to do the homework (Lesley, 2018).

Furthermore, universities have shown that middle-class students are running them. It is surprising to note that even the lecturers have no way of identifying or connecting with the low-class students. As a result, the students from the low class end up becoming disadvantaged in the learning process.

The current government in existence only served the interest of the wealthy and the middle-class population in society. It is uncommon to hear someone from the top or middle class, getting imprisoned after committing a crime. It seems the prisons got built to accommodate criminals from the low-class alone. Additionally, the political class appears to be blind to the plights of the low-class people. The only interest represented are those of the middle and top-class citizens. It is sad to note that a lot of wealth only gets distributed to the selected few individuals in the country, and the political class is doing nothing about it. As weber points out, the higher an individual is at the hierarchy, the more he/she has the power to make a decision. Thus, the political class will always make critical decisions that favor them.

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