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Social Stratification

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Q1A. The question of the inevitability of social stratification is one of the fundamental bases of the theories of Kingsley Davis and Wilbert Moore. Davis and Moore (1945) argue that as long as there is division of labor in the society, and that there are variability in the roles with varying degrees of importance, stratification will occur. There is a significant difference in the wages of CEO’s and a minimum wage earner because according to the theory, there is a functional necessity of providing different rewards for different positions in the society in accordance to an individual’s abilities.

Because not everyone is qualified for specific positions or roles set by the society, there is a need to fill them by making sure that the right people are motivated enough to find ways by which they can fill these certain positions. The theory established by Davis and Moore shows that social stratification, aside from being inevitable, is highly functional in nature. Stratification is an instrument that the society utilizes to attract the right people for the right roles set by the society.

The situation regarding the increasing wage gap between the CEO and the minimum wage earners can be explained by the functional needs to get the right people motivated to do to right job through stratification. Q1B. There is empirical evidence showing that women earn significantly less than men. Davis and Moore would probably look at this situation emphasizing that gender is a central aspect in the social stratification.

It is functional in a sense that men are physically more competent than women, and therefore giving them more incentives to perform these positions would result to the improvement of productivity. Society has set different roles for different genders and usually, the roles that are assigned to women are those that would allow them in work inside the house taking care of children for instance. Though this may also be considered as a full time job, there is no monetary equivalence to this kind of occupation.

In contrast to this, men are expected to earn the income for their family to continue subsistence. The main function of inequality is due to the very fact that not all roles in the society have the same extent of difficulty. Because there is a societal notion that the responsibility assigned to men and women are not the same, social stratification according to gender exists, hence the difference in wage rates. Q2A Melvin Tulmin made a response to the theory created by Davis and Moore.

He claims that there are several loopholes that the functional theories of Davis and Moore were not able to address, such defining the term “functionally important”. The situation involving the wage gap between the CEO and the minimum wage earner can be explained by Tulmin’s criticism to the theories of the previous sociologists. For Tulmin, the system of social stratification does not function as the motivating force to attract the right people to the right positions but to force the acceptance of ideologies that govern the society.

The increasing gap between the earnings of the CEO and the minimum wage earners can be explained by the fact that there is indeed an existing barrier between the two types of people mentioned above. This would lead the society to accept the ideology that the former is indeed superior as compared to the latter. Social stratification systems functions to maintain the status quo in the society. Because of the existing social stratification, a large segment of the society are not even given the opportunity to undergo the training so the selective function of social stratification systems as argued by Davis and Moore is defeated.

Q2B In the points of criticism of Tulmin out against the functional theory of Davis and Moore, it was highlighted that systems of social stratification has the function to regulate the discovery of the full potential of talents available in the society. In this case, we can say that the women are not given enough opportunities as compared to their male counterparts because of the limited resources that are provided to them, which would lead the society to accept the ideology that women are certainly inferior to men.

Social stratification systems serve as a tool to distribute positive self images of individual in the certain category concerned. The wage gap between male and female could be explained by Tulmin’s thesis that “Social stratification systems function to provide the elite with the political power necessary to procure acceptance and dominance of an ideology which rationalizes the status quo, whatever it may be, as "logical," "natural" and "morally right. (Tulmin, 1953) This means that there is a prevailing status quo that has to be preserved in order for the society to function according to preference of the dominant stratum, which in this case is the male. Q3A Karl Marx is one of the most influential political thinkers of the nineteenth century, who claimed that exploitation is an inherent characteristic of the capitalist system. If he were to look at the situation involving the CEO and the minimum wage earners, he would probably conclude that this phenomenon is brought about by the capitalist society prevailing the United States.

He would associate the CEO to the “bourgeoisie,” the class who own the means of production, while the minimum wage earners are the “proletariat” the group of individuals who sell their labor but do not possess the means of production. In a capitalist system, profit is earned by paying the workers less than the full value of their output. The identity of each social class is a function of their contribution to the means of production. In each social class, there exists an ideology and consciousness among the members of the society that is shaped by the material conditions and their relationship to the means of production.

Using Karl Marx’s theory, we can conclude that this situation is an effect of the capitalist system. Q3B The difference in the wage earned by male and female represents a power relation between the genders favoring the former. Women are oppressed in the society due to the notion of private property which then leads to economic inequality, and ultimately social relations between the two genders. The capitalist system prevails in a patriarchal society. According to a socialist Azizah Al-Hibri, capitalism is an advanced form of patriarchy. Roberts, 1998) In this Marxist-Feminist point of view, we can conclude that the significant difference between the wages of men and women is a tool for the patriarchal society to stay in power, since social classes is ultimately defined by its material conditions. Gender inequality exists because it serves the interest of the capital or the ruling class. Reference List Rhonda F. Levine, ed. (1998) Social Class and Stratification: Classical Statements and Theoretical Debates. New York: Rowman and Littlefield Roberts, Carey. (1998) Karl Marx and the Gender Wage Gap. Retrieved June 21, 2008 from iFeminist. com. Available online at:

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