Social Stratification Essay Research Paper 3 SOCIAL

Social Stratification Essay, Research Paper


-Starting point of Modernity (from ideological point of view):

French Revolution’s Slogans: Libert?(Freedom), Egalit?(Equality), Fraternit? (Brotherhood)

1. freedom of the individuals; main institution: the MARKET (economics)

2. equality of LIFE CHANCES, or more skeptical interpretation:

- aim: to decrease the inequalities of life chances

3. tolerance and acceptance between different cultures, nations, ethnicities

- SOCIAL (and Economic) INEQUALITIES in the center of STRATIFICATION approaches

- Social Stratification: the division of a population into UNEQUAL LAYERS or STRATA based on income, wealth, gender, ethnicity, power, status, religion, age or some other characteristics.

-SLAVERY system: the individuals, who are considered as SLAVES do not possess a personal physical freedom – e.g.: Antic Rome – subjugation of “inferior” barbar tribes, blacks in the United States, (first half of the 19th century)

-CASTE SYSTEM: ascribed social statuses (social status at BIRTH) provide the principal bases of unequal distribution of social resources

e.g. India: Brahmin (fathers:priests, 2%), Kshatriya (warriors, 1%), Vaisya (traders, 7%), Sudra (artisans, 70%) and Untouchables (20%)

- it is a CLOSED system: people have great difficulty in changing status

-CLASS SYSTEM: an open system, where people can change status, in which ACHIEVED status provide the principal basis for the unequal distribution of social resources

-Social CLASSES (based on ECONOMIC characteristics, such as wealth and income)

1. MARXist approach: CONFLICT between two classes, e.g. in the capitalist “mode of production”: BOURGEOISIE (capitalists, owners of productive wealth) against PROLETARIAT (landless wage workers)

2. WEBERian approach: in capitalist societies inequalities can be associated with the MARKET; market capacity determines LIFE CHANCES

- class+ STATUS (the relative PRESTIGE of a person’s social standing)+ power

- aim: EMPIRICAL description of a society (MERTON vs. Parsons)

Merton: middle-range theories; link theories to empirical testing

Parsons: “grand theory”; purely theoretical construct of AGIL-scheme

- empirical examples for stratification in contemporary societies

1. the poor 2. working class (unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled manual workers) 3. middle class (e.g. white collars) 4. upper class (ELITE: who can influence the most important DECISIONS in a field)

- STATUS:a composite index of several social characteristics (e.g.: income, occupation, education, place of living, life style, ethnicity, gender etc.) which create social layers (strata)

- STATUS INCONSISTENCY: different characteristics seem to contradict

(e.g.: a top manager of a MNCs, living in a small village, having only a primary level of education etc.)

- Incongruence: your occupational POSITION does not fit to your level of education (e.g. ELITE in early stage of State Socialism)

- a contemporary theory of social stratification: theory of capitals

BOURDIEU 1. economic (material): wealth, income 2. cultural (human): embodied (education) and symbolic (life style, cultural patterns) 3. social (friends, kinship networks e.g to get INFORMATION, getting a JOB, to have material or emotional SUPPORT in case of problems)

- Examples for MEASUREMENT

- Meritocracy: your position based on your KNOWLEDGE (often identified by your level of education), your WORK PERFORMANCE

- Reproduction of inequalities? In contemporary societies by the institutions of the EDUCATION (a possible conversion of the different forms of capitals: e.g. if you pay more, you can get into better schools)

- MOBILITY: change in socio-economic status

(e.g from an unskilled worker to a top manager at an MNCs)

- intragenerational (inside one life history, e.g. as a 20-years-old unskilled worker vs. a 45-years-old top manager) and intergenerational (from one generation to the other; compared to your father and/or mother) mobility

-upward and downward mobility

- Relative deprivation: your relative position has become worth compared to other social strata (e.g. Roma people in Hungary during state socialism: their absolute position improved, but the distance between them and the other part of the society grew)

- Example: SYSTEM CHANGE and Stratification in Hungary after 1989

- transition or transformation? (a long theoretical debate)

- Bartha’s interpretation (personal view):

TRANSITION: in the level of the AIMS/goals: e.g. from state-socialism to a free-market capitalism

TRANSFORMATION: in the level of TECHNICS, the choosen economic policies (PATH-dependence); e.g. PRIVATISATION: how? in Hungary: centralized tendering vs. Czech Republic: voucher-privatisation

- the INNER STRATIFICATION of the ECONOMIC ELITE during the transformation (transition) period

- ELITE: those people who are able to inleunce the most important DECISION-MAKING processes in the economic, cultural or political sphere (respectively: economic, cultural or political elite); the members of the elite are NOT necessarily neither the “richest” ones, nore the “most famous” ones

- empirical description of the elite:

1. reputational sample (e.g.: different “ART schools”)

2. institutional (positional) sample

- e.g. economic elite in Hungary during the 90’s

segments: large industrial corporations (among them: MNCs), banks+ other financial institutions (insurance and broker companies), economic ministries, Parliament’s economic committees

- positions: at least a “head of department”

- the privilegised segment: financial segment + MNCs

- younger people, more women, predominance of economic education (vs. engineering /industrial corp./ or law /Parliament/), more refined life style (higher cultural consumption; close to that of that cultural elite!)

- the level of ELITE REPRODUCTION is relatively high (the change of the elite members is relatively low) compared to the other post-communist elites (Poland, Czech Republic) WHY?

- 1. power conversion theory (Hankiss): successful conversion of the former nomenklatura’s /party leaders/ political power to economic power


- indicator 1: leading HSWP-(MSZMP-)party position in the 80’s

- indicator 2: new economic elite position

-2. techocratic continuity theory (Szalai): in Hungary the elite change has started in the 80’s – most of the former elite’s members had still an appropriate level of education before 1989, they could conserve their position thanks to their expertism, “technocratic” professional knowledge


- indicator 1: level of incongruence before 1989

- indicator 2: level of incongruence in the 90’s

Result of the empirical testing: rather the hypothesis of technocratic continuity can be maintained


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