Ministry of General and Professional Education
of Russian Federation
Tula State University
Department of Sociology
Social Stratification and Mobility
Fulfilled by: Golopolosov Dmitry
Checked by: Scherbakova V.P.
TOC \o “1-3”
What is Stratification? 3
Some Principles of Stratification: A Critical Analysis PAGEREF
_Toc470871960 \h 4
Social mobility PAGEREF _Toc470871961 \h 4
Identifying social classes PAGEREF _Toc470871962 \h 5
Middles rank according to profession PAGEREF _Toc470871964 \h 6
What is Stratification?
Social stratification is a structured ranking of individuals and groups
– their grading into horizontal layers or strata.
There are two different types of stratification systems: open system and
closed system. Open system is a stratification system, in which people
can change their status with relative ease. Closed system is a
stratification system, in which people have great difficulty in changing
I think that there is a closed system in our country, because a person
having nothing-valuable resources can’t change his social status. For
example, ordinate engineer can’t suddenly become a bank officer with
greater income. Person must have some capital, money, bank securities or
intellectual capital. But, I think, nowadays there is a great tendency
in our society to have more money than an intellect, i.e. money capital
is more preferable than a great intellectual potential of our nation.
The study of social stratification is the study of class, caste,
privilege, status that is characteristic of a particular society. It
varies according to how society is organized especially in terms of
production and work. We will emphasize class.
What is the connection between the question: what do you want to be when
you grow up and social stratification (especially the class character of
the society you live in)? Your position in society and the rewards that
will be associated with it. It has an impact on your possibility of
realistically meeting your opportunities for mobility. Mobility refers
to the likelihood that you can achieve a class, caste different from
where you come from, your roots. Mobility and stratification are
What image does strata invoke as a model of the social world? Strata
comes the natural sciences. Dr. Brush argues that it is interesting that
sociologists use a natural phenomena to talk about social phenomena. It
seems to contradict the main message of the course: our world is
socially constructed phenomena and not a natural process. Thus,
stratification is not equal to natural accretion.
Hypothesis posed by a classmate: society needs stratification to be
healthy and keep the peace. Which of the three main sociological
perspectives supports this statement? The functionalist perspective.
Most stratification arguments come out of this perspective. The second
part of the hypothesis (to keep the peace) relates more to the conflict
Stratification and egalitarianism are related. In a sociological sense
strata is a category that’s associated with social hierarchy. That is,
people are ranked according to their rank, class, authority. If a
society has ranks then it is a stratified society. If it does not, then
it is an egalitarian society. Keep in mind, that these are relative
Last week we drew a picture that tells the story of how societies are
organized around work. As societies move from simple to complex
organization, they start to get levels of inequality that would need
stratification to keep the peace. The differences are not natural,
neutral nor random. They are ranked and constitute a hierarchy along the
lines of race, gender, age, income among others.
Class is about how society organizes production and the outcomes that it
creates for people; this a combination of a Marxian (stratification) and
Weberian (organization) understanding.
Some Principles of Stratification: A Critical Analysis
Certain position in any society are functionally more important than
others and require special skills for their performance.
Only a limited number of individuals in any society have the talents
which can be trained into the skills appropriate to these positions.
the conversion of talents into skills involves a training period during
which sacrifices of one kind or another are made by those undergoing the
In order to induce the talented persons to undergo these sacrifices and
acquire the training, their future positions must carry an inducement
value in the form of differential, i.e., privileged and disproportionate
access to the scarce and desired rewards which the society has to offer.
These scarce and desired goods consist of the rights and perquisites
attached to or built into, the positions, and can be classified into
those things which contribute to a.) sustenance and comfort, b.) humor
an diversion, c.) self-respect and ego expansion.
This differential access to the basic rewards to the society has a
consequence the differentiation of the prestige and esteem which various
strata acquire. This may be said, along with the rights and perquisites,
to constitute institutionalized social inequality, i.e., stratification.
Therefore, social inequality among different strata in the amounts of
scarce and desired goods, and the amounts of prestige and esteem, which
they receive, is both positively functional and inevitable in any
Social mobility is a process, when individuals or groups can move from
one level (stratum) to another in the stratification system. There are
three types of social mobility:
Vertical mobility involves movement from one social status to another of
higher or lower rank.
Horizontal mobility entails movement from one social status to another
that approximately equivalent in rank.
Integrational mobility involves a comparison of the social status of
parents and their children at the same point in their respective
careers. Integrational mobility entails a comparison of the social
status of a person over an extended time period.
Identifying social classes
There are three main approaches to identifying social classes: the
objective method, the self-placement method, and the reputational
method. Although all the approaches overlap in classes, there are
appreciable differences in the results afforded by each. Moreover, each
method has certain advantages and disadvantages (see Table 1).
The objective method. The objective method views social class as a
statistical category. The categories are formed not by the members
themselves, but by sociologists or statisticians. Most commonly people
assigned to social classes on the basis of income, occupation, or
education (or some combination of these characteristics). The label
“objective” can be misleading, for it is not meant to imply that the
approach is more “scientific” or “unbiased” than the others. Rather, it
is objective in that numerically measurable criteria are employed for
the placement of individuals.
The self-placement method. The self-placement method (also known as the
subjective method) has people identify the social class to which they
think they belong. Class is viewed as a social category, one in which
people group themselves with other individuals they perceive as sharing
certain attributes in common with them. The class lines may or may not
conform to what social scientists think are logical lines of cleavage in
the objective sense.
The reputational method. In the self-placement method people are asked
to rank themselves. In the reputational method they are asked how they
classify other individuals. This approach view class as a social group,
one in which people share a feeling of oneness and are bound together in
relatively stable patterns of interaction. Thus class rests on knowledge
of who associates with whom.
Table 1. Identifying social classes
Method Advantages Disadvantages
Objective A clear-cut method for studying the correlates of social
class. It is commonly the simplest and cheapest approach since data can
usually be obtained from government sources. The method often does not
yield divisions that people themselves employ in their daily lives.
Self-placement The method can be applied to a large population since
survey techniques can be employed for securing the data. A useful method
for predicting political behavior since who people think they are
influences how they vote. The class with which people identify may
represent their aspirations rather than their current associations or
the appraisals of other people.
Reputational The method provides a valuable tool for investigating
social distinctions in small groups and communities. It is specially
useful for predicting associational patterns among people. The method is
difficult to use in large samples where people have little or no
knowledge of one another.
Middles rank according to profession
Professionals Whole amount of respondents Middle class of Russia Ideal
1. Industrial workers 35.2 25.2 4.2
2. Technicians, middle part managers 14.4 23.4 20.8
3. Directors of public industries and joint-stock companies 1.2 2.1 –
4. Businessmen 6.9 12.8 25.0
5. Accountant, financier etc. 4.0 4.2 12.5
6. Humanitarian intelligence 20.5 23.4 16.7
7. Workers of communal sphere 10.2 8.5 20.8
8. Trade and supply workers 7.6 – –
Russian middle class: 6% of all respondents
self-identification: middle place
Financial position: sufficient to live
Education: specialized secondary education, incomplete or complete
Numerical superiority: men and citizens of big towns and Moscow.
Ideal middle class: 3.4% of all respondents (most close to middle class
of advanced countries)
Financial position: sufficient amount of money for almost all needs
Education: specialized secondary education or higher (50% – specialized
Citizens of big towns (21.1%) and villages (52.7%). Thus 2-3% of
villagers are of middle class.
Phillips, B. Sociology research methods.
Schaffer R. Sociology.
Zanden, James, Vander. Sociology.
Enciclopedia Britannica ( HYPERLINK http://www.britannica.com)
Журнал Социологические исследования. 1999, №7-10
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