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9.1 What Is Social Stratification?


Track the social stratification of your family tree. Did the social standing of your parents differ from the social standing of your grandparents and great-grandparents? Are there any exogamous marriages in your history? Does your family exhibit status consistencies or inconsistencies?


Review the concept of stratification. Does your family have wealth? What is the overall family income? What kind of employment do your caregivers/parents/guardians have? Where would you guess you fall within the social classes (low, middle, or high)?


Where did your family grow up? What is their understanding of the American Dream and how you can achieve it? Does your family share the same understanding of stratification?

9.2 Social Stratification and Mobility in the United States


Which social class do you and your family belong to? Are you in a different or same social class than your grandparents and great-grandparents? Why are you in the class you are? What changed? What stayed the same? Marriages? Acquisition of property? Education? Career changes? Reflect on your family’s journey within the classes.


What class traits define your peer group? For example, what speech patterns or clothing trends do you and your friends share? What cultural elements, such as taste in music or hobbies, define your peer group? How do you see this set of class traits as different from other classes either above or below yours?


Write a list of ten to twenty class traits that describe the environment of your upbringing. Which of these seem like true class traits, and which seem like stereotypes? What items might fall into both categories? How do you imagine a sociologist might address the conflation of class traits and stereotypes?

9.3 Global Stratification and Inequality


7. What does it mean for a country to be seen as “underdeveloped”? What about “developed”? How does this shape our perception of the citizens within those countries?


Why is it important to understand and be aware of global stratification? Make a list of specific issues that are related to global stratification. For inspiration, turn on a news channel or read the newspaper. Next, choose a topic from your list, and look at it more closely. Who is affected by this issue? How is the issue specifically related to global stratification?

9.4 Theoretical Perspectives on Social Stratification


Analyze the Davis-Moore thesis. Do you agree with Davis and Moore? Does social stratification have an important function in society? What examples can you think of that support the thesis? What examples can you think of that refute the thesis?


Consider social stratification from the symbolic interactionist perspective. How does social stratification influence the daily interactions of individuals? How do systems of class, based on factors such as prestige, power, income, and wealth, influence your own daily routines, as well as your beliefs and attitudes? Illustrate your ideas with specific examples and anecdotes from your own life and the lives of people in your community.

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