About Social Stratification

Ideological Divisions and Social Inequalities

Ideologically, the world divides individuals into many groups based on a variety of considerations, including their amount of wealth or poverty, political clout, and educational attainment.

The general public frequently views the poor as hopeless, unmotivated, and a source of shame as a result of their failures in life (McLeod, 2013 pp. 229). Contrarily, the wealthy are praised for their drive, tenacity, focus, and productive traits.

These elements determine a person's place of residence as well as their standing in society, like in David Rockefeller's and Michael Jackson's histories. Despite coming from a well-known family and going to prestigious schools, David is known for his diligence (Beeghley, 2015). Michael, on the other hand, persevered through the harshness of poverty, evaded crimes, lack of home, and better schools. He is considered careless and lazy (McLeod, 2013 pp. 237).

As a sociologist, we intend to generalize what makes these social divisions and inequalities (Lenski, 2013). Therefore, in this essay, I will define and discuss the topic social stratification citing classes and societies using the systems. Lastly, I will identify, compare, and contrast theories of Marx, Durkheim and be giving an opinion.

Topic 1: Definition and Discussion on Stratification

The word 'strata' originates from a geological term that means the arrangement of rocks in layers. Social stratification is the way society ranks people socioeconomic groups about income, derived power, wealth, and occupation (Lenski, 2013: Beeghley, 2015)). It is an individual's position within a society. Stratification is done into generally distinguished classes namely; lower class, middle class, and upper class. The latter is further sub divisible into upper, middle and lower strata. The social classification of people takes places in all societies including complex, tribal, polycentric and feudal societies. In fact, the act either started from the age of hunting and gathering or agricultural era (McLeod, 2013 pp. 230). The structures arise from social inequality, and the more complex the society is, the more it is socially differentiated.

Apart from social class stratification, there are other systems such as gender, race, ethnicity and global stratification systems. Racial and ethnic stratification are more or less the same considering the level of prejudice and discrimination involved (Lenski, 2013). This particular system of stratification requires around the inequality in ranking the people according to group membership, tribe, skin color or national origin. The race takes the presumption of common genetics composition hence portraying unique physical characteristics. On the other hand, ethnicity concerns cultures language dialect, tradition, and cuisine. The system was used in America to select slaves to work in cotton farms. Gender-based stratification system is a pervasive but most used system when assigning roles and responsibilities. A sex-based social distinction is used when according privileges and rights in family and job areas (McLeod, 2013 pp. 240: Beeghley, 2015). You may find women being paid less or denied opportunities for the same job. The differences between the two systems depend on the coverage and scope. Ethnicity tends to be localized while gender is worldwide.

Topic 2: Theoretical Frameworks on Social Stratification

Max Weber theory on Social Stratification

Max Weber's theories of 'Three-component theory of stratification and concept of life chances' came as a response to Karl Marx ideology of efficient communism on social stratification (Beeghley, 2015). He argued that bureaucracy and social control were detrimental on social ranking than capitalist. He furthered argued that dialectical presumption was unlikely to cause proletariat revolt. The theory suggests, "There are more class divisions derived from Marxist and functionalist theories" (Lenski, 2013). He lays more emphasis that class, power, and status vary but maintains that sources of authority influence social action. The classes were; "the upper class, the white collar workers, the petite bourgeoisie and manual working class." His research in Germany reveals that economic status does not entirely depend on earning citing that there were powerful politicians who lacked wealth and opposite were true.

Karl Marx Theory

Marx states that "the mode of production comprises of two main divisions; the base that deals with working conditions, and property relation" (Lenski, 2013). In the social class system, Marx argues that upper class owns the means of production while the lower class provides the technical labor to production plant owners. He also hinted that the proprietor of the mode of production rules the working class as they provide a wage to them. He says that the ruling class owns large tracts of land, political power and other privileges in the society. Further discussion on petite bourgeoisie and lumpenproletariat tells us that petite bourgeoisie is average businesspersons who inherit modes of production after aristocracy falls (Beeghley, 2015). Lumpenproletariats have no status in the society like prostates and beggars.


In summary, social stratification has different perspectives. According to Weber, he emphasizes on the social class of stratification claiming that some may possess the power but does not control the production system. Therefore, according to him, stratification depends on race, ethnicity or gender (McLeod, 2013 pp. 233). He distinguishes that power, status and wealth do not guarantee a person upper-class position. Alternatively, Marxist says that economic robustness allows an individual to control a group. He argues that being in control of the production mode hence source of employment to low-income earners gives you greater opportunities through bureaucratic means (Beeghley, 2015). As earlier stated in the biographies of David and Michael, you can see that David rises into ranks to the point of declining a government post because of economic prosperity. In this light, I support the Marxist perspective of social stratification.


Beeghley, L. (2015). Structure of social stratification in the United States. Routledge.

Lenski, G. E. (2013). Power and privilege: A theory of social stratification. UNC Press Books.

McLeod, J. D. (2013). Social stratification and inequality. In Handbook of the sociology of mental health (pp. 229-253). Springer Netherlands.

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