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Introduction to Sociology

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Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
VU
Lesson 22
THEORIES OF CLASS AND STRATIFICATION ­ I
The ideas developed by Karl Marx and Max Weber forms the basis of most sociological analysis of class
and stratification. Broadly theories have been divided into conflict and functionalist perspectives and these
two will be the focus of our discussion.
Stratification and Conflict
Social conflict perspective argues that, rather than benefiting society as a whole, social stratification benefits
some people at the expense of others. This analysis draws heavily on the ideas of Karl Marx, with
contributions from Max Weber.
Karl Marx: Class and Conflict
Marx (1818-1883) argued that the distinctions people often make between themselves ­ such as clothing,
speech, education, or relative slavery ­ are superficial matters that camouflage the only real significant
dividing line: people either (the bourgeoisie) own the means of production or they (the proletariat) work for
those who do. This is the only distinction that counts, for these two classes make up modern society.
Means of production refer to the sources by which people gain their livelihood.
Hence people's relationship to means of production determines their social class.
Before the rise of modern industry, the means of production consisted primarily of land and the
instruments used to tend crops or pastoral animals. In such societies the two main classes were those who
owned the land (aristocrats, gentry or slave-holders) and those actively engaged in producing from it (serfs,
slaves and free peasantry).
In modern industrial societies, factories, offices, machinery and the wealth or capital needed to buy them
have become more important. The two main classes are those who own these new means of production ­
the industrialists or capitalists called as Bourgeoisie (boorzhwahze) ­ and those who earn their living by
selling their labor to them ­ the property-less working class called as proletariat.
According to Marx in Das Kapital three great classes exist in modern societies:
The owners of mere labor power, the owners of capital, and the landlords, whose respective sources of
income are wages, profit, and ground-rent.
The relationship between classes is an exploitative one. In feudal societies, exploitation often took the form
of the direct transfer of produce from the peasantry to the aristocracy. Serfs were compelled to give a
certain proportion of their production to their aristocratic masters, or had to work for certain number of
days in the lord's fields to produce crops consumed by the lord.
In modern industrial societies, the source of exploitation is less obvious, and Marx devoted much attention
to trying to clarify its nature. In the course of the working day workers produce much more than is actually
needed by employers to repay the cost of hiring them. [Value of product of labor ­ value of labor = the
surplus value] This surplus value is the source of profit, which capitalists are able to put to their own use.
The labor becomes a commodity. Wealth is produced on a scale far beyond anything seen before, but
workers have little access to the wealth their labor creates.
The capitalist becomes richer while the proletariat gets poorer. Marx used the term pauperization to describe
the process by which the working class grows increasingly impoverished in relation to the capitalist class.
Even if the workers become more affluent in absolute terms, the gap separating them from the capitalist
class continues to stretch ever wider.
These inequalities between the capitalist and working class were not strictly economic in nature. Work itself
becomes dull and oppressive in the modern factories resulting in dehumanizing the work environment.
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Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
VU
The capitalist class draws its strength from more than the operation of the economy. Through the family,
opportunity and wealth are passed down from generation to generation. Moreover, the legal system
defends this practice through the law of inheritance. Similarly the exclusive schools bring children of the
elite together, encouraging informal social ties that will benefit them throughout their lives. In this way
capitalist society reproduces the class structure in each new generation.
Marx saw great disparities in wealth and power arising from this productive system, which made class
conflict inevitable. Over time, Marx believed, oppression and misery would drive the working majority
(labor class) to organize, challenge the system, and ultimately overthrow the capitalist system. Such a class
struggle has been part of the history of societies. According to Marx; through this revolution the capitalist
system is replaced by socialist system resulting in a classless society. In such a society, humans will be able
to live in a world where they are not prevented from realizing their full potential by the constraints of class
societies. In a classless society the principle of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his
need" comes into operation.
Critical evaluation:
How do we motivate people to do their job efficiently? Motivating people to perform various social roles
requires some system of unequal rewards. Severing rewards from performance generates low productivity.
In capitalist societies the wages of workers have increased. Here people talk of The Affluent Worker.
Between the two classes a third class of petite bourgeoisie ­ small owners, managers, supervisors, and
autonomous workers has emerged. Such a situation is not going to let the capitalist system to collapse.
All workers don't support the Labor Party, as it is evident from the voting behavior pattern of laborers in
UK.
Also people talk about the collapse of USSR.
Religion used as the pain-killer for oppression. (Religion as opiate of the people)
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Table of Contents:
  1. THE ORIGINS OF SOCIOLOGY:Auguste Comte, The Fields of Sociology
  2. THE SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE:Society affects what we do
  3. THEORETICAL PARADIGMS:Salient Paradigms, Critical Evaluation
  4. SOCIOLOGY AS SCIENCE:Empirical, Verifiable, Cumulative, Self-Correcting
  5. STEPS IN SOCIOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION:Exploration/Consultation
  6. SOCIAL INTERACTION:Social Status, ROLE, The Social Construction of Reality
  7. SOCIAL GROUPS:Primary and Secondary Groups, Reference Group, Networks
  8. ORGANIZATIONS:Utilitarian Organizations, Coercive Organizations
  9. CULTURE:Universality, Components of Culture, Symbols, Language
  10. CULTURE (continued):Beliefs, Norms, Cultural Diversity
  11. CULTURE (continued):Culture by social class, Multiculturalism, Cultural Lag
  12. SOCIALIZATION: HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, NATURE, Social Isolation
  13. UNDERSTANDING THE SOCIALIZATION PROCESS
  14. AGENTS OF SOCIALIZATION:The Family, The School, Peer Groups, The Mass Media
  15. SOCIALIZATION AND THE LIFE COURSE:CHILDHOOD, ADOLESCENCE
  16. SOCIAL CONTROL AND DEVIANCE:Crime, Deviants, Stigma, Labeling
  17. THE SOCIAL FOUNDATIONS OF DEVIANCE:Cultural relativity of deviance
  18. EXPLANATIONS OF CRIME:Sociological explanations
  19. EXPLANATIONS OF CRIME -- CONTINUED:White-Collar Crime, Conflict Theory
  20. SOCIAL DISTRIBUTION OF CRIME: EXPLANATIONS, Gender and Crime
  21. SOCIAL STRATIFICATION: INTRODUCTION AND SIGNIFICANCE
  22. THEORIES OF CLASS AND STRATIFICATION I:Critical evaluation
  23. THEORIES OF SOCIAL CLASS AND STRATIFICATION II
  24. THEORIES OF CLASS AND SOCIAL STRATIFICATION III
  25. SOCIAL CLASS AS SUBCULTURE
  26. SOCIAL MOBILITY:Structural factors, Individual factors, Costs
  27. THE FAMILY: GLOBAL VARIETY, Marriage Patterns, Patterns of Descent
  28. FUNCTIONS OF FAMILY:Reproduction, Social placement
  29. FAMILY AND MARRIAGE IN TRANSITION:Family is losing functions
  30. GENDER: A SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION, Gender socialization
  31. GENDER SOCIALIZATION:Role of family, Gender Stratification
  32. EXPLANATIONS OF GENDER INEQUALITY:Conflict Explanations, Feminism
  33. FUNCTIONS OF SCHOOLING:Cultural Innovation, School Tracking
  34. ISSUES IN EDUCATION:Low Enrollment, High Dropout, Gender Disparity
  35. POPULATION STUDY AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE:Crude Birth Rate
  36. THEORY OF POPULATION GROWTH:Theory of Demographic Transition
  37. POPULATION PROFILE OF PAKISTAN:World Population Growth
  38. POPULATION PROFILE OF PAKISTAN (Continued):Age Distribution, Sex Composition
  39. IMPLICAIONS OF POPULATION GOWTH:Additional GDP needed per year
  40. POPULATION POLICY:Goals of Population Policy, Objectives, Strategies
  41. ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIETY:Global Dimension, Historical Dimension
  42. ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES:Preserving Clean Water, Clearing the Air
  43. SOCIAL CHANGE:Social change is controversial.
  44. CAUSES OF SOCIAL CHANGE:Culture and Change, Conflict and Change, Modernization
  45. MODERNITY AND POST MODERNITY:Cultural Patterns, Post-modernity