Introduction to Sociology – Social Stratification in the United States

Introduction to Sociology – Social Stratification in the United States


>>All right, in this unit we’re going to be
looking at something called social stratification. Stratification has to do with the rankings
of people within a social group, and those differential rankings have differential access
to the valued resources. So let’s think of some examples of stratification from your
world, perhaps. If you watch the Harry Potter series, one of the opening scenes of the first
movies shows the young people going into Hogwarts and going into this big ceremony called the
Sor – the Sorting Hat Ceremony. Where they’re divided into different groups that they’re
going to spend the rest of their, their time at school there. That was a system of stratifying
the people in that social group. Another way to think about stratification is to think
about a time you may have driven through on a road through a mountain. If you looked over
to the side to the left or the right, you saw different layers of dirt that were deposited
over the years, and you can see the different layers. Each of those different layers is
a strata, and geologists look at stratified earth. In sociology we look at stratified
society. When we look at the stratified system in a social group, we can think about different
things that people possess in that social group depending on what strata that they’re
in. For example, people might possess more power or more property at a higher level than
people at a lower level. The key terms to look out for in this chapter are things like
mobility, the extent to which you can move from one level to another level. Most systems
are either closed, that is, you’re stuck in one level forever, or open, that you have
the ability to move from one level to another level. Other key terms include the idea of
power, the extent to which you can have people do things that they don’t want to do. People
with — at higher levels of stratification have more power than people at lower levels.
Finally, we will be talking about life chances. People who are at higher levels of stratification
tend to be able to give their children better life chances to get ahead more easily. Among
the closed systems that we’ll be looking at include slavery, the caste system, and also
we’ll be looking at a kind of modern closed system called human trafficking. We’ll be
looking at the problem of human trafficking in America and around the world. All right,
that’s social stratification. It helps us to understand how people are divided into
different rankings. People with higher levels of stratification have more power than people
at lower levels of stratification. In the units that are to follow we will be looking
at how stratification affects things like gender and race and how those affect people’s
social outcomes, their life chances. All right, make use of the material that’s made available
for you this unit and good luck.

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