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Social stratification

Groups have different accesst o resources, power and perceived social worth; a system of structured social inequality

Estate system

Ownership of property and the exercise of power is monopolized by an elite who have total control over societal resources. Most common in agricultural societies

Caste system

One's ascribed status (quality given to an individual by circumstances of birth) is that person's place in the system; ex: apartheid

Class system

a person's placement in the class system can change according to personal achievements, class depends on achieved status

Social class

social structural position groups hold relative to the economic, social, political and cultural resources of society

Life chances

Described by Max Weber; the opportunities that people have in common by virtue of belonging to a particular class

Status symbol

ordinary object given a "label" making it valuable

Indicators of class

income, education, place of residence

Status attainment

process by which people end up in a given position in the stratification system

Socioeconomic status (SES)

Derived from certain factors such as income, occupational prestige and education


Amount of money recieved in a given period

Wealth (net worth)

total owned minus debt

Median income for a society

Midpoint of all household incomes


value assigned to people/groups by others

Occupational prestige

subjective evaluation people give to jobs; more education needed, usually more occupational prestige

Educational attainment

total yrs of formal education

Upper class

owns major share of corporate and personal wealth; had wealth for generations or recently become rich; very small portion of society

Nouveau riche

those with newly acquired wealth

Upper middle class

High incomes and social prestige

Middle class

hard to define; very large portion of americans

Lower middle class

workers in skilled trades/low-income bureaucratic workers; aka working class

Lower class

displaced and poor; little formal education; often unemployed or working in minimum wage jobs

Urban underclass

has been added to the lower class; those who are likely to be permanently unemployed and without much means of economic support

Class conflict

from Karl Marx's conflict theory; interprets inequality as resulting from the unequal distribution of power and resources in society

Professional-managerial class

from conflict theory perspective; meaning middle class; includes managers, supervisors and professionals


net value of what one actually owns; add all financial assets and subtract debt; allows one to accumulate assets over generations

Melvin Oliver/Thomas Shapiro

The sedimentation of racial inequality; the persisting effects of discriminatory policies

Basis for US stratification

Class, age, ethnicity, national origin, gender

Myth of model minority

the idea that a minority group must adopt alleged dominant group values to succeed


a system in which one's status is based on merit or accomplishments, not other social characteristics

Social mobility

a person's movement over time from one class to another


occurring between generations


occurring within a generation

Closed class systems

Movement from one class to another is impossible

Open class systems

Placement in the class system is based on individual achievement, not ascription; loose class boundaries, high rates of class mobility, weak perceptions of class difference

Class consciousness

perception that a class structure exists along with a feeling of shared identification with others in one's class

False consciousness

class consciousness of subordinate classes who had internalized th view of the dominant class; Karl Marx used term; ruling class controls subordinate classes

Karl Marx: class and capitalism

Defined classes in a relationship to the means of production, the system by which goods are produced and distributed

Capitalist class

own the means of production

Working class via Marx

those who sell labor for wages

Petty bourgeoisie

small business owners and managers who identify with the interests of the capitalist class but do not own the means of production


those who have become unnecessary as workers and are then discarded (underclass, homeless, permanently poor)


belief system that supports the status quo

Class conflict

per Marx, working class would become dissatisfied with profits becoming concentrated in the hands of few capitalists, revolution as an inevitable result

Max Weber saw three dimensions to stratification (Mulitdimensional view of social stratification)

Class (economic demension), Status (prestige), Party (or power, political dimension)

Class (Weber)

economic dimension of stratification, how much access to the material goods of society oa group or individual has

Status (Weber)

the prestige dimension of startification, the social judgment of recognition given to a person or group

Party (Weber)

aka power; political dimension; capacity to influence groups and individuals even in the face of opposition

Functionalist perspective on inequality

Parts of society are in basic harmony; inequality servews an important purpose in society: motivates people to fill dft positions that are needed for survival of the whole; a reward system that motivates people to succeed

Conflict perspective on inequality

Society held together by conflict; groups struggle over resources and compete for social advantage; Social stratification based on class conflict and blocked opportunity

Poverty line

Determined by the gvt to be the amount of money needed to support the basic needs of a household; below this line, one is officially poor

Feminization of poverty

increasing proportion of the poor who are women and children; 1/3 of families headed by women are poor

Salience principle

categorize people based on what's obvious ex: skin color


Attitude: evaluation of group based on conceptions about the group despite facts that disprove them


Behavior: negative/unequal treatment of members of a group based on their membership in that group


Perception and tx of a racial group as inferior to one's own group

Old fashioned racism

Obvious, overt racism ex: physical assault

Aversive racism

Subtle, covert, nonobvious ex: avoiding interaction

Laissez-faire racism

aka symbolic racism; negative stereotyping, tendency to blame blacks for black/white gap, resistance to policy efforts

Color blind racism

chooses to ignore racial problems in america and think they will go away if ignored

Institutional racism

negative tx and oppression of one group by society's existing institutions bsed on teh presumed inferiority fo the oppressed group

Scapegoat theory

frustration turns to aggression directed toward minority groups

Aurthoritarian personality

authroitarian personality are more likely to be prejudiced against minorities than nonauthoritarian individuals


process byw hich a minor8ity becomes socially, economically and culturally absorbed within the dominant society:: Functionalist theory


maintenance and persistance of one's culture

Contact theory

Gordon Allport:: interaction between whites and minorities may reduce prejudice; three conditions: individuals must be of equal status, contact must be long term, and norms favoring equality must be agreed upon by participants:: symbolic interaction theory

Intersection perspective

the interactive or combined effects of racism, classism, and gender in the oppression of people

Assimilation perspective

belief for many Americans that with enough hard work and loyalty to the dominant white culture of the country any minority can manke it and thus "assimilate" into American society

Cultural pluralism

dft groups in society maintaining their distinctive cultures while also coexisting peacefully with the dominant group


a pattern of extreme segregation

Gender socialization

process through which men and women learn the expectations associated with their sex; Parents most important source, school, religion, media, popular cultureed`1d

Gender identity

one's definition of oneself as a woman or man

Gendered institutions

total pattern of gender relations that structure social institutions, including stereotypical expectations, interpersonal relationships,a nd the different placement of men and women that are found in institutions

Gender stratification

the hierarchical distribution of social and economic resources according to gender

Gender apartheid

extreme segregation and exclusion of women from public life


a society or group in which men have power over women


society or group where women have power over men

Labor force participation rate

percent of those in a given category who are employed either part time or full time

Human capital theory

result of differences int he indiviual characteristic st aht worker bring to jobs; assumes that the economic syste m is fair and competitive adn that wage discrepancies reflect differences in the resources that individuals bring to jobs

dual labor market theory

women and men make dft amounts because they work in different segments of the labor market:: primary market (jobs stable, good wages, advancement opportunities) vs secondary market (high turnover, low wages, nonexistent promotion ladders)

Gender segregation

a pattern in which different groups of workers are separated int o occupational categories based on gender

Occupational segregation

segregation in the labor market based on factors sucha s race, class, age or any combination thereof


practicies that single out some groups for different and unequal treatment; ex: sexual harrassment

Functionalism and gender

men fill instrumental roles in society where women fill expressive roles; arrangment works to benefit society

Conflict theory and gender

women are disadvantaged by power inequities between women and men that are built into social structure

Symbolic interaction adn gender

people produce gender through the interaction they have with one antoher and through the interpretations they have of certain actions and appearances


refers to advocating a more just society for women

Feminist theory

analyses that seek to understnad the position of women in society fo rthe xplicit purpose of imporving their position in society

Liberal feminism

inequality for women originates in traditions of the past that pose barriers to women's advancement

Socialist feminism

interprets the origins of women's oppression in the capitalist system

Radical feminism

interprets patriarchy as the primary cause of women's oppression

Multiracial feminism

most recent; examines the interactive influence of gender, race, and class, showing hwo together they shape the experiences of all women and men

Comparable worth

paying women and men equivalent wages for jobs of similar skill level


socially defined and patterned

"Natural behavior"

behavior accepted by cultural customs and sanctioned by social institutions

Sexual orientation

attraction that people feel for people of the same of different sex; implies something deeply rooted in a person

Sexual identity

definition of oneself that is formed around one's sexual relationships; LEARNED through the context of our relationships; Not based on sexual processes

Sexual scripts

teach us what is appropriate sexual behavior for each gender

Social construction perspective

used by symbolic interactionists to interpret sexual identity as learned, not inborn

Coming out

process of defining oneself as gay/lesbian

Queer theory

evolved from recognizing the socially constructed nature of sexual identity; interprets society as forcing sexual boundaries on people; challenges the idea that only one form of sexuality is normal and all other forms are deviant or wrong

Sexual politics

the link between sexuality and power, not just within individual relationships

International sex trade

aka "traffic in women"; the use of women worldwide as sex workers in an institutional context where sex itself is commodity

Sex capitals

where prostitution openly flourishes; ex: Thailand, Amsterdam


the institutionalization of heterosexuality as the only socially legitimate sexual orientation


sought to apply the scientific principles of genetic selection to improve the offspring of the human race

Sexual revolution

the widespread changes i mens and womens roles and a greater public acceptance of sexuality as a normal part of social development

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