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social differentiation

process by which different statuses develop in any group.

estate system

stratification, 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 place in the stratification system is ascribed, hierarchy is often preserved through law and cultural practices that prevent free association and movement

class system

persons placement can change according to personal achievements, class depends to some degree on achieved status

life chances

the opportunities that people have in common by virtue of belonging to a particular class; ex. possessing goods, having an income, and having access to particular jobs.


the value others assign to people and groups

nouveau rich

those in the upper class with newly acquired wealth

economic restructuring

refers to the decline of manufacturing jobs in the US, the transformation of the economy by technological change, and the process of globalization.

myth of the model minority

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


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

social mobility

person's movement over time from one class to anotherl can be up or down


mobility occurring between generations; ex. daughter rises above class of her mother


mobility occurring within a generation; ex. when a person's class status changes as a result of business success

class consciousness

the perception that a class structure exists along with a feeling of shared identification with others

false consciousness

describe the class consciousness of subordinate classes who had internalized the view of the dominant view


belief systems that support the status quo

poverty line

amount of money needed to support the basic needs of the household; determined by the government

feminization of poverty

term used to refer to the large proportion of the poor who are women and children


process whereby some social category takes on what society perceives to be racial characteristics.

out group homogeneity effect

all members of any out group are perceived to be similar or identical to each other and differences among them are perceived to be minor or not exist


oversimplified set of beliefs about members of a social group or social stratum

salience principle

the categorizing of people on the basis of what appears initially prominent and obvious

stereotype interchangeability

stereotypes are often interchangeable among racial and ethnic groups


the evaluation of a social group and the individuals within it based on conceptions about the social group held despite facts that disprove them


overt negative and unequal treatment of the members of some social group or stratum solely because of their membership in the group


the calculated redrawing of election districts, school districts, and similar political boundaries in order to maintain racial segregation


the perception and treatment of a racial or ethnic group as intellectually, socially, and culturally inferior to one's own group

authoritarian personality

tendency to rigidly categorize other people, as well as inclinations to submit to authority, strictly conform, be very tolerant of ambiguity, and be inclined toward superstition


process by which a minority becomes socially, economically, and culturally absorbed within the dominant society


spatial and social separation of racial and ethnic groups

matrix of domination

no single factor alone determines one's location in society, rather race with class, gender, age, place one in a system of advantages and disadvantages

biological determinism

the explanations that attribute complex social phenomena to physical characteristics

gender identity

one's definition of oneself as a woman or man

gendered institutions

total pattern of gender relations that structure social institutions

gender apartheid

extreme segregation and exclusion of women from public life


society in which men have power over women


society in which women have power over men

comparable worth

paying women and men equivalent wages for jobs involving similar levels of skill; Often job titles mask the skill level required for a particular job.

feminist theory

the analyses that seek to understand the position of women in society for the explicit purpose of improving their position in society

minority group

any distinct group in society that shares common group characteristics and is forced to occupy low status in society because of prejudice and discrimination


the maintenance and persistence of ones culture, language, mannerisms, practices, art and so on.

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