What Are The Main Ways In Which Groups Of People Draw Distinctions Between Themselves And Other Groups Of People?

1570 words - 6 pages

There are many different ways in which groups of people draw distinctions between themselves and other groups of people. Throughout my essay I am going to look at the factors that allow these distinctions to be made and how they are made. The general term used to describe the way in which groups of people draw distinctions between themselves and other groups of people is called 'social stratification'. "Sociologists use the concept social stratification to refer to a system by which a society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy." According to Macionis and Plummer, social stratification has four basic principles. The first of these principles is "Social stratification is a characteristic of society, not simply a reflection of individual differences", the second is "social stratification persists over generations", the third principle is "social stratification is universal but variable" and the final principal is "social stratification is not just inequality but beliefs. I will delve further into these principals throughout my essay. There are two opposing standards when describing social stratification. They are 'closed systems' which allow for little change, and 'open systems', which allow for social mobility. "Each society has social layer, or strata which are demarcated more or less sharply from one another." This can be a way in which people draw distinctions between each other. Groups of people draw distinctions between themselves and other groups of people through things such as social and economic positions, power, prestige, gender, ethnicity, age, disabilities etc. Plummer states that these differences, or inequalities, are hierarchies which are known as 'social and economic stratification', 'gender stratification', 'ethnic stratification' and 'age stratification' I will discuss all of these further in my essayIn this paragraph I will be explaining the different systems of social and economic stratification. Slavery, caste, estate and class are the systems and this will show the way in which different classes or groups of people draw distinctions from those who are richer or poorer than them. Plummer describes the slavery system as "a form of social stratification in which people are owned by others as a property" Although slavery no longer exists in its classical examples it still exists as forced labour. These people are seen as lesser human beings and thus distinctions are drawn between them and richer people."A caste system amounts to social stratification based on ascription" It is a closed system as ones social destiny is decided at birth alone. Caste systems are typical of agrarian societies. India is an example of a caste system known as 'varna'. "Members of the lower class castes are predominantly poorer than those higher up in caste system." Apartheid in Africa is also a good example of a caste system. Caste systems draw distinctions between members of the caste and outsiders. "Traditional groups are linked to occupation"...

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