Sociology is a field which developed over a millennia ago, but it was not until the nineteenth century that it came into the fore as a bona fide social science, in need of its own classification apart from other social sciences. Sociology, 'the study of the process of companionship';(pg.396, Ambercrombie,Hill,Turner), is a discipline, which is not exclusively independent in and of its self, yet borrows from many other disciplines such as: history, geography, and anthropology.
'American sociology is fundamentally analytical and empirical; it proposes to examine the way of life of individuals in the societies … prefers to explain institutions and structures in terms of the behavior of individuals and the goals, mental states, and motives which determine the behavior of members of various social groups (pg.5,Aron).';
A specialization within Sociology is social stratification. This segment of sociology attempts to deal with the structures of any given society and ones' relationship with the institution. 'Social stratification means that inequality has been hardened or institutionalized, and there is a system of social relationships that determines who gets what, and why (pg.11, Kerbo).'; Through various paradigms, and theories we are able to come to a better understanding of social stratification.
The paradigm that is most rational to my understanding of social stratification is the critical-conflict. In this paradigm the state embodies the interests of the "common citizen," and mediates between primitive human desires and the rational need for freedom and well being. Conflict theorists view that definitions of norms and values are also a source of conflict over who has the right to create laws and justice. As a consequence, not only behavior but also power relationships become important topics to study. Unlike the structural-functionalist view of society, which views harmony as the basis of order, conflict theorists see conflict as the natural state of social existence. Despite their critical examination of power relations, conflict theorists tend to accept the fundamental existing social arrangements, and instead of arguing for new social systems tend to argue for rearrangement of existing relations.
'This paradigm (critical-conflict) shares with the uncritical-conflict paradigm an image or model of society that considers conflict and power as the key to social order (at least in present societies). The power of one group—Such as an upper class or a power elite—leads to social order. A powerful group is usually able to coerce or manipulate subordinate classes (through force, threat of force, withholding of jobs, or other means) because of the dominate group's influence over basic institutions in the society ( such as the economy, government, courts, and police)(pg.88, Kerbo).';
The critical-conflict theorist, I feel is the most plausible is Karl Marx and his Marxian view of social stratification and...