TheAmerican Society and its Social Stratification
The American society is divided into various social classes that arebased on the power, influence, and wealth they have. In particular,it comprises of the upper class, middle class, working class andlastly the lower class. More importantly, the scenario shows howpeople have more wealth and influence in the society. For instance,the upper class is made up of the billionaires that are beneficiariesof the generational wealth that were amassed over the yearsespecially during the industrial revolution. The technologicalchanges have also resulted in a new group of billionaires thatinclude Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Nathan Blecharczyk, as well asEduardo Saverin. The middle class has the people that have retainedthe top job positions in the corporate organizations, and theyinclude the lawyers, doctors or even the accountants. Besides that,the working class is another level of the social stratification, andit comprises of the blue collar workers and the ones with a minimaleducation qualification. Lastly, the lower class has the ones thatrely on the handouts and live in some poor conditions. Hence, thisessay will evaluate the social classes in the US society and how therace inequality is evident. It will also use the functionalism toassess the stability of the social classes based on the interactionof the economics, religion, material culture, and technology. Besidesthat, the conflict theory will highlight how the industrialrevolution was instrumental in the development of the socialstratification. In this case, the paper will evaluate how the upperclass was able to own the means of production and used that tocontrol the working class that served as employees in the factories.This essay will evaluate the social stratification in the US, theracial inequality, and the conflict theory and functionalismperspectives of the society.
The American society is divided into different social classes thatdiffer based on the amount of money and power that they have in thesociety. In particular, the American society has the upper, middle,working and the lower classes. In this case, the upper classcomprises of the people that hold nearly 25% of the entire nation’swealth (Omi & Winant, 2012). The group has the high societiesthat have acquired a vast amount of cash for generations, and some ofthem have inherited the income from the previous family members. Onecan distinguish them based on the expensive social clubs, poshneighborhoods, as well as the finest schools. Besides that, themiddle class has the white collar workers that have acquired the toppositions such as the CEOs, stockbrokers as well as the doctors (Omi& Winant, 2012). In most cases, their job positions, education,and wealth set them apart from the other social classes. The workingclass is the third one and has people with average educationqualifications such as the computer technicians and the teachers. Thegroup also includes the blue collar workers that include the plumbersand electricians. Even if they are underpaid, they tend to findenough income to cater for the upkeep of their families. The last onethat is the lower class entails the group of people that are poor andsome of them simply rely on handouts to find enough money to feedthem and cater for any other basic need. Often they will even haveproblems accessing medical care or even food and proper housing. Sometend to have lower educational skills or they might have skills invocational training alone. More specifically, the power and vastwealth tend to rest among the upper class that is the top one, whilethe other ones will follow.
Among the social classes, the race inequality is the most common onesince the minorities tend to suffer from the lack of the resources oreven enough job opportunities. The upper class is characterized by alarge number of the White people, while the middle class and theworking class will have a small percentage of the minorities.However, the lower class often has the majority of the minorities. Inthis case, the minorities tend to lack the opportunities to seekenough education that might open up some lucrative job positions thatwill pave the way for more wealth. For instance, one percent of theBlack community reports a net worth of $1.4 million and above whilethe White community has about nine percent (Western et al., 2012).The inequality reveals how the American society is divided based onthe racial lines. Some of the Black and Latin families even lackadequate housing, and they are forced to live in dilapidatedcommunities where insecurity and poverty are the order of the day. Infact, the lack of job opportunities has forced some of the minorityfamilies to embrace crime so that they can find enough income tocater for their basic daily needs. A larger number of the prisonpopulation is made up of the minorities that are forced to useunauthorized ways of seeking income. Burglary, battery, kidnapping,carjacking and bank robbery are just some of the crimes that they areaccused of committing (Western et al., 2012). The scenario arisesfrom the lack of opportunities that have forced some of them to optfor the criminal activities to get enough income to support theirfamilies. The devastating scenario is a result of the racialinequality that has reduced the amount of opportunities that theminorities might access in the society.
Some of the minorities have even complained of lacking jobopportunities because of their skin color. The fact that they havebeen unable to find the lucrative job opportunities have forced themto settle for the manual labor where they are underpaid. In theprocess, they even lack enough income to cater for every need theymight have. The justice system has also exercised the racialinequality through the unfair judgments that lead to most of theminorities being placed in the prisons just because they fit thestereotypes of a criminal (Davies & Zarifa, 2012). In fact, evensome of the suspects have been taken into prison just because theywere unable to pay the court fees. The consequences have been morecommon because of the low income and the reduced power and influencethat they possess. All in all, the racial inequality has beenprominent among the social classes in the American society.
The social stratification reveals how the White people havecontrolled a large part of the upper class since they were able toacquire more wealth and resources early enough. On the other hand,slavery undermined the chances of the Black community achieving theeconomical success in the society. They have been forced to settlefor the manual labor while some of them cannot even access aconsistent job (Davies & Zarifa, 2012). The scenario has led someof them into crime where they have to steal or peddle drugs just toget the cash that can feed them. Even if the government complains ofthe current increase in the crime level, it seems more like thesociety has led to such circumstances. Perhaps, a good government issupposed to respect everyone regardless of their color, ethnicity ororigin. Serving its people equally is an important way of ensuringthat the nation achieves huge steps in the process of development.All in all, equality matters in a nation since it helps everyone inhaving the opportunities to succeed in the end.
Functionalism is a perspective that insists the society is a group ofdifferent parts that work and coordinate in ensuring that the socialstratification is more stable. More importantly, each of these partshelps in strengthening the citizens and ensures that they contributeto the society in a certain way. In this case, economics, technology,material culture, as well as religion are just some of the few partsthat might have a significant influence on the society. The economicshave resulted in the upper class retaining the factors of productionwhile the lower class and the working class have to work for them.However, the owners have to pay the wages to refund the services andthe effort that they have invested in the production process. In theprocess, the employees in the factories then use the income to caterfor the basic needs that they might have. Both the employees and theowners of the various organizations are forced to part with a certainamount of their income as the taxes that support multiples publicservices by the government (Ritzer & Yagatich, 2012). In fact,the services that include security, improved infrastructures such asthe roads, airports and the rail system benefit even the poor peoplethat do not have enough income. Hence, the economics help in makingthe stratification more stable.
Technology has also caused a significant impact on the socialstratification in the US. For instance, the emergence of thetechnology has simplified some of the production processes, and ithas also replaced a number of employees that are currently renderedjobless as well. To some extent, technology has resulted in somepeople moving from the working class to the working class. However,technology has also led to multiple inventions, and the owners oftheir ideas have acquired a huge amount of wealth. For instance, MarkZuckerberg, Nathan Blecharczyk, Eduardo Saverin and Dustin Moskovitzare just some of American billionaires that have benefitted from thetechnological inventions that they had created (Kraus et al., 2012).In the process, some of them have employed more people that are alsogiving enough taxes to the economy. Even if technology has renderedsome people jobless, it has also employed some creating a balance inthe social stratification.
The material culture that includes the factories, temples, mosques aswell as the products and the means of production has led to asignificant impact in the social stratification. In fact, itinterrelates with the religion, technology as well as the economicsin a particular nation to create a balance in the social classes. Forinstance, the technology has improved the material culture in termsof the advanced production process where companies are creating somehigh-quality goods. Most companies have been able to use technologyin marketing their goods to the customers and make sure that theyreach the specific market segments that they want to serve (Barak etal., 2014). Religion also influences the values and beliefs of theclients. At times, people might be forced to reject certain productsor services that might be against their religious beliefs. Forinstance, religious people will be reluctant to engage inprostitution, alcohol drinking and other drugs since they considerthem to be unwanted and sinful too. The religious groups have alsofocused on teaching the society on the importance of certain moralsand values. The morals have taught the groups of people to restrainfrom some evil activities such as crime. Hence, the teachings of theBible have insisted on law and order in the society that has createda supportive environment for the material culture to thrive. Moreimportantly, the business activities have been able to operate in apeaceful environment that has enabled the ventures to get moreprofits. The entire process has also boosted the economics since thepeople from the upper class are able to trust the working class andthe middle class with their organization. The religious morals haveinsisted on trustworthiness and obedience that have discouragedcorrupt dealings and created business ventures that are moreprofitable. In summary, the technology, material culture, economicsas well as the religion interact with each other to provide stabilityin the social stratification.
The conflict theory asserts that the society is characterized by animbalance in the resources that result in the disadvantaged fightingfor the few remaining opportunities. Karl Marx, who is the creator ofthe theory, insists on the society being divided into the bourgeoisiethat is in possession of the means of production while theproletariat refers to the poor ones. Back to the industrialrevolution days, the society was divided based on the access toresources, status as well as power. In this case, a few people in thesociety had the three elements that are influential in the socialstratification. During the industrial revolution, a few people withthe resources, status and power were able to own the factors ofproduction. In the process, they ended up owning most of thefactories in the nation and helped in building the economy (Barak etal., 2014). The fact that they were the owners saw them amass aconsiderable amount of profits that arose from the industrialactivities. From that point, most of the owners opened otherfactories where they employed more people and produced more goods aswell. The production process ensured that they accrued more wealthand climbed the socio-economic hierarchy in the society. Most of theowners created the upper class that was in control of the societywhere they decided how certain issues were done (Heinrich, 2013).Some of them even had control over the government since they weresome of the powerful in the society. Karl Marx also reveals thattheir prominence in the society even gave rise to capitalism that hasseen how the powerful keep acquiring more resources at the expense ofthe weaker ones in the society. More importantly, they even had awide network that had powerful people, and together they madefactions control the poor people. Their ability to control thesociety gave them the wealth that they needed to maintain theirposition and undermine the position of the lower class. Their controlof the power, resources, and status matches the description that KarlMarx provided in revealing how the conflict theory worked in thesociety.
On the other hand, the lower class retained their position becausethey lacked enough resources, power, and status to own the means ofproduction. In the process, they had to settle for the subordinateroles in the factories that were owned by the people in the upperclass. Most of them even settled for the manual labor in order toensure that they have enough income to cater for their basic needs.In this case, the employers also paid them lower wages to make surethat they retain the same positions. Offering them more resources andwages meant that they could easily assemble the income to own theirmeans of production (Heinrich, 2013). However, they reduced anychances of the laborers getting enough income to seek other interestsor ventures that are quite lucrative than their current occupation.The people from the upper class were able to isolate the poor people,and that reduced their chances of getting rich as well. For instance,the government was able to provide properties to the wealthy peopleand they even bribed the elected officials to ensure that they getfunds to finance their private enterprise too. The corruption levelin the state and the local level cemented the position of some peoplein the upper class since they were able to control a vast amount ofland through bribing the state as well as the legislators from thecity council (Heinrich, 2013). The influence also silenced some ofthe employees from the lower class that tried to raise their voiceand criticize the poor conditions that they were working under. Inthis case, the working conditions even led to the creation of thetrade unions since they were tired of the situation in most factoriesat that time. The scenario meets the assumptions that Karl Marxaddressed while talking about the conflict theory. It is clear thatthe insufficient resources made them remain poor while theiremployers gained more wealth since they used some unauthorized meansto push their way up the economic ladder. Besides that, the fact thatthey made more profits for the capitalists and they got nothing alsomade it much worse.
In conclusion, thesocial stratification shows the widespread racial inequality in thesystem and the functionalism and the conflict theory reveal how thesociety works too. In this case, the upper, middle, working, and thelower classes are differentiated by the ability to access power,authority, and wealth too. More specifically, the social classes arean important element of the society since they reveal how people workand interact. In fact, the wealth of a person also matches with theparticular influence in the society as well. For instance, the peoplefrom the upper class are more likely to interact with the governmentofficials and they will even have multiple favors that they mightwant. The social classes reveal a significant influence of the racialinequality since the upper class comprises of the Caucasians whilethe working and the lower class has a large number of the minorities.Besides that, the lack of opportunities has caused them to remain inthe lower class instead. Functionalism provides a new perspective onthe society, and it shows how the interaction of technology,religion, and material culture, as well as the economics, make thesociety more stable. Even if the technology causes joblessness, italso creates more opportunities that work in the field. Furthermore,religion urges some people to restrain from using certain materialcultures such as the drugs and the alcohols. However, it teachespeople morals and makes them behave in the most appropriate way. Forinstance, religion will urge some of the people to avoid crime andensure that they are peaceful and orderly too. The conflict theoryasserts on the way that the upper class was able to rule the lowerclass by controlling the resources and power to force them intoworking instead.
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