Online College Courses for Credit

3 Tutorials that teach Davis Moore Thesis
Take your pick:
Davis Moore Thesis

Davis Moore Thesis

Author: Paul Hannan

Examine the arguments in the Davis-Moore thesis, and the idea of egalitarian society.

See More

Davis-Moore Thesis

Source: Intro Music by Mark Hannan; Public Domain Gears Public Domain

Video Transcription

Download PDF

[MUSIC PLAYING] Welcome this episode of Sociology Studies of Society. Today's lesson is on Davis-Moore thesis. As always, don't be afraid to pause, stop, rewind or even fast forward, to make sure you get the most out of this tutorial.

So today I'm going to be explaining for you the Davis-Moore thesis, and some criticism of this thesis. So the Davis-Moore Moore thesis, really you can put underneath the umbrella of the structural-functional approach. And, as you've learned, the structural-functional approach is this idea that society is really this complex system, and all these things in the system work together, even bad things, to make the system work.

So what Davis-Moore says in their thesis is that social stratification, the inequality that happens in society, is actually good for society. It's an important part of society working. And they have four different reasons why they think this inequality, this social stratification, is good.

So they argue the first thing is that this inequality really helps place importance on important jobs. If you look at a doctor and a janitor, this thesis-- part of this argument is that, well, we as a society, we want to show that doctors are more important than janitors. That differentiation between the doctor and the janitor is actually good because it's helping show what's important for our society.

They also argue that this social stratification comes from the requirement of having skills and more knowledge. So society, that stratification-- when you look at that doctor and the janitor, well, being a doctor requires a lot more skills. It requires a lot more knowledge. So we need to differentiate them. That difference between the doctor and the janitor is, again, OK. Because there's a big difference in what skills they require to do those jobs.

Similarly to that, there's also a difference in what the actual acquiring of skills. So not everyone can be a doctor, especially if you're looking at a really advanced form of brain surgeon. There is very specific skills and knowledge you need to be a doctor. The Davis-Moore thesis says, well, not everyone can be a doctor. So that's stratification saying, well, look. It's OK that it's different because only a small group can be doctors.

The last point here is that we have to reward people in society. So that doctor-- we're trying to reward that doctor for being a doctor. We need to reward them as a society, reward what we think merits reward. So that's the basics of the Davis-Moore thesis.

Now there are some criticism of the Davis-Moore thesis. So the first question there is, what is actually important? Again, the Davis-Moore thesis is saying that we have different jobs and some are more important than others, and that a doctor is more important than a janitor. But what really is important? I mean, would our society function without people that cleaned and took care of buildings?

Or if we take another profession-- we took a police officer and a doctor-- there's a major difference there between those two groups. But which is actually more important for society, the police officer or the doctor? Next question there is do financial rewards match the importance or do they guarantee performance. So what that question is saying is, in some situations this social inequality does not match what we even think was important.

Very few people would say that professional athletes are the most important people in society. But professional athletes make considerably more than many, many people in society. The second half of that question is there, does it guarantee performance? A lot of the social stratification that happens in our modern society, it happens regardless of how well people do. I should say, relatively regardless. Maybe the excellent doctor who makes a little bit more, but still very, very on a totally different level from the best janitor or the best police officer.

The last question there is does social stratification correlate with anything else. And this criticism is really saying, is there's a lot of different things that have to do with social stratification that don't have to do with anything they talked about-- someone's race, their ethnic background, how wealthy their parents were, how much education their parents got. All those things really strongly play into what social class you end up in.

Well, if those things are so strongly correlated, then how come they don't fit into their thesis? It's really ignoring the fact that if you're African-American you're much more likely to be poor than if you're white. And it doesn't have to do with the individuals that are-- as they're born black or white. It has to do with the way our society treats people who are black and white.

So today's takeaway message-- today we just looked at the Davis-Moore thesis, and that's a theory that argues that social stratification is good for society. Well, that's it for this lesson. Good work. And, hopefully, you'll be seeing me on your screen again soon. Peace.

Terms to Know
David Moore Thesis

A theory that argues that some social stratification is good for society.


Belief that all people are equal and deserve rights and opportunities.