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Caste System (ascribed stratification)

A relatively rigid stratification system in which people's positions are ascribed and fixed

Class System (achieved stratification)

A relatively open stratification system in which people's positions are achieved and changeable

Horizontal Mobility

Movement from one job to another within the same status category

Vertical Mobility

Moving up or down the status ladder

Intergenerational Mobility

A change in the social standing from one generation to the next

Intragenerational Mobility

A change in an individuals social standing

Kuznet's Curve

The changing relationship between economic development and social inequality, named after its discoverer, Simon Kuznets


The ability to control the behavior of others, even against their will

Power elite (+who?)

C Wright Mills. A small group of individuals who hold top positions in the federal government, military, and corporations and have similar backgrounds, values, and interests

Social class

A category of people with the same amount of wealth, power, and prestige

Social stratification

The division of society in such a way that some people get more rewards than others

Status inconsistency

The condition in which the same individual is given two conflicting status rankings

Structural mobility

Social mobility related to changes in society


Uncontrolled spiral downward

Life chances

The likelihood of living a good, long, successful life

Types of societies

Egalitarian, master-slave, feudal, caste, class system, mixed


The amount of money used to influence others


A subjective opinion formed by others

Poverty: absolute vs. relative

Lack of minimum food and shelter necessary for maintaining life vs. a state of deprivation resulting from having less than what the majority of people have

Feminization of poverty

A huge number of women bearing the burden of poverty, mostly as single mothers or heads of families

World System

A network of commercial and other relationships among all the members of the world's community

Core countries

The world's upper class, the most industrialized and richest societies popularly known as industrialized or developed countries

Peripheral countries

The world's lower class, relatively poor societies popularly known as developing countries

Semiperipheral countries

The world's middle class, relatively affluent societies in the middle of global stratification also known as newly industrialized countries

Cultural theory

The theory that cultural values of discipline, thrift, education, the family, and group orientation contribute to economic success

Dependency theory

The theory that rich nations exploit poor ones for power and commercial gain, thereby perpetrating poverty, underdevelopment, or dependency on rich nations

Modernization theory

The theory that contact with rich nations can enrich poor ones but lack of contact keeps them poor


The loss of numerous factory jobs as a result of relocating a massive number of manufacturing plants to peripheral countries


The proliferation of unstable, low-skilled, or low-paying jobs


The economic control exercised by rich nations over their former colonies

Downward mobility reasons

Rapid population growth, a huge drop in global commodity prices, and inadequate flow of capital from rich countries

Upward mobility reasons

Open economy for unrestricted trade, foreign investments, and industrial growth. Along with U.S. aid

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