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Social Stratification

Social Stratification

Author: Paul Hannan

Identify the different types of social stratification.

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Source: Intro Music by Mark Hannan; Public Domain Planet Public Domain Factory Public Domain

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[MUSIC PLAYING] Welcome to this episode of Sociology-- Studies of Society. Today's lesson is on social stratification. As always, don't be afraid to pause, stop, rewind, and fast forward to make sure you get the most out of this tutorial. So today we're looking at social stratification. Stratification is just when you split up something into different layers.

Well, social stratification is just a hierarchy ordering groups of people and society from high to low. And there is a lot of inequality in social groups. There's difference between wealth and power and status. All these can play into different types of social stratification. Before I move on to actually explain a little more about social stratification, just a caveat here-- social inequality, just as a term here, means unequal social status of groups.

So in most societies, you're going to have some form of social inequality. It's going to a vary from society to society, and it's going to vary across time even within the same society. But that's what the term there means. It just means unequal social status of groups. So here we have a representation of a social hierarchy. People can move up or down in these categories.

So the amount of degree that someone can move up or down in society is called social mobility. So if we're looking at, let's say, a class system, which is something-- you know, when you're breaking up society based on wealth, well, people can move down in wealth. They can move to a lower category, or they can move up. And the degree of that-- so kind of like maybe the likeliness of that is called social mobility.

Now, what happens if you can't move at all? There's no way. Well, that is called a caste system. So a caste system is one which does not allow for social mobility at all. You can think of maybe traditional Indian society being a great example of a caste system. They have before different castes and the untouchables, and traditionally there was absolutely no change in those groups.

So let's look at modern stratification. I mentioned this actually before. A class system is one that stratifies society based on material wealth. And the majority of societies, really when we think about stratification, the first place people really generally go is thinking about it through material wealth. That's just the function of the way society seems to be going. Now, I want to mention here the Industrial Revolution, because the Industrial Revolution, if you remember, is this transition to manufacturing goods.

And so people moved from being farmers to having factories and producing like physical items from factories, rather than farming. And one things that it really did is it increased the standard of living and life expectancy for everyone. Another consequence of the Industrial Revolution is that it actually decreased the amount of social inequality that exists in society. So nations that have gone through an industrializing movement-- they are generally much more equal, much less unequal, than ones that have not.

So today's takeaway message-- today we looked at social stratification, and that's the hierarchy of groups and people in society from high to low. We looked at social mobility, so that's the degree which someone can move up or down in society. We learned about a caste system, which is a system that doesn't allow for any social mobility. We also looked at a class system, which is a hierarchy based on material wealth. Then I briefly talked about the Industrial Revolution and how that made societies more equal and increased standard of living and life expectancies.

And then we also learned about social inequality, which is just the idea of unequal social status of groups. Well, that's for this lesson. Good work, and hopefully you'll be seeing me on your screen again soon. Peace

Terms to Know
Caste System

A rigid system of social stratification that does not allow for social mobility.

Class System

A system of social stratification based on economic achievements in the lifecourse.

Industrial Revolution and Societies

The industrial revolution and the transition to industrial capitalism largely got rid of caste systems of social stratification and replaced them with less rigid and more flexible class systems of stratification.

Social Inequality

A condition in which members of a society have different amounts of wealth, power, and prestige.

Social Mobility

The degree to which one can move upwards or downwards in society.

Social Stratification

Like layers of soil, or "strata," social stratification is the hierarchical layering of groups of people in society from high to low.