Forms of social stratification.

This section of the class will address forms of social stratification. As we will see, social strata organize large groups of people into hierarchies. These hierarchies are often invisible and justified to more privileged members of the society. This is because the strata reflect unequal distribution of POWER, PROPERTY and PRESTIGE, with those higher up the strata enjoying more and those below having less. Those higher up the strata make justifications with elaborate social myths to explain why they deserve what they have. Social location in these hierarchies impact LIFE CHANCES, or more directly, access to valued social resources, relationships, and opportunities. How does your position in social strata impact your life? Where are you in the social strata of society? The world? How do the strata intersect in your life? What privilege do you take for granted?

For this assignment I want you to identify 2-3 characteristics in your life [e.g., things you do daily, your skin color, primary language, gender identification, food you eat and where it comes from, style of clothes you wear and where they are from (new or used), money in your bank account (or lack of it), age, freedom from hard or degrading labor, who prepares your food, etc.] that reflect your position in at LEAST two different social hierarchies – class, race/ethnicity, nation, gender. Once you identify these, discuss what type of stratification they reflect. Also comment on how those characteristics bring privilege or restrict privilege in your life, shaping how others perceive you or relate to you. It is likely who will identify some combination of privilege and social status restriction. What privilege do you take for granted? What privilege do those in the strata above you fail to acknowledge?

Once you identify some examples, you should begin to see how ideas and beliefs explain or justify the strata and hierarchies that you are grouped into. In the remainder of your journal, I want you to explore how the concept of “deserve” is used to justify some groups having more and some groups having less. EXAMPLE: “They have a billion dollars, they must have earned it (or their parents did) and therefore they deserve it.” OR “Those people don’t work as hard and just want to use drugs, so they deserve their poverty.” How does this concept of deserve allow you and others in our society to uncritically lump millions of people (including children) into a social strata and then justify the entire system of inequality? How does this concept of deserve provide a “moral mythology” that justifies the story of inequality in the world? Why is this treated as so natural, as if it were absolutely true? What does this say about our ability to critically reflect on our own society?

Social stratificationName:Date: The society has a tendency to organize people into smaller groups or hierarchiesbased on the privilege one is accorded in the society.

 
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