Delta State University
SOC 101: Principles of Sociology
Fall Semester 2004

Study Questions
Week 7

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Topic for the Week:  Stratification and Social Inequality

Readings for the Week:
  Society: The Basics, Chapter 8


(1)  What is meant by social stratification?  What evidence supports the contention that stratification is a social (not individual) phenomenon?

(2)  Explain the relationship between ascribed and/or achieved status and systems of stratification.  Provide examples of statuses that may form the bases of a caste system, a class system, and an estate system.  What is the rationale for each system?  What ideologies support each system?

(3)  What is meant by status consistency?  Across what factors is consistency measured?  What conditions are more likely to produce a higher degree of status consistency?

(4)  Compare the arguments made by evolutionary, functionalist and conflict explanations of stratification. 

(5)  According to the explanation developed by Davis and Moore, why do we observe stratification in all societies?  What are the benefits provided by stratification?  What are the critiques of this approach?

(6)  Compare the theories of stratification provided by Karl Marx and Max Weber.  What do the theories have in common, and how do they differ?

(7)  What is the difference between income and wealth?  Which offers a better indicator of stratification?  Why?

(8)  What are the bases of inequality in the United States?  Are these primarily ascribed or achieved statuses?

(9)  What characterizes the class structure in the United States?  Identify the important characteristics of the upper, middle, working, and lower classes.  What are some problems that this class structure produces?

(10)  What is meant by social mobility?  Distinguish structural, intragenerational, and intergenerational mobility.  Which has a greater effect on mobility in the United States, ascribed or achieved characteristics?  Is the American Dream still a reality?

(11)  What is the difference between relative and absolute definitions of poverty?  What is life like for those living in poverty?  Why does poverty exist, even in rich societies like the United States?

(12)  What is meant by welfare?  What are the goals of welfare programs?  Who receive most welfare?  Does this change if we define welfare as all assistance distributed by the government?  What are the advantages and costs of state-distributed welfare assistance?