• Unit 5: Social Stratification

    In this unit, we examine how social stratification ranks our social worth. How does your relative position affect your life chances and opportunities? Consider how we rank people in our community, such as by the car they drive or the neighborhood they live in. Sociologists are most interested in how these ascribed characteristics impact opportunity. Ascribed characteristics are those you are born into or have no control over, such as race, sex, sexuality, and age.

    Stratification is a universal component in society, we find it everywhere, but the factors we rank and the inequality of the ranking system varies. In this unit, we consider institutionalized inequalities, such as racism, sexism, and ageism, and how our prejudices continue to influence our outlook. Research shows that race and ethnicity continue to affect access to valuable resources, such as healthcare, education, and housing.

    We will discuss gender, gender identity, sexuality, and the aging process as dimensions of stratification. In this Unit, we examine the social construction of the category and the prejudice and discrimination that still function in society. In sociology, we pay particular attention to institutionalized discrimination, or the bigotry and intolerance built into our laws, policies, and practices. Institutional discrimination does not require any malicious intent, yet the consequences are often devastating to the groups affected.

    We also address issues of national and global inequality. Why are some countries wealthier than others? How can we address the needs of more than seven billion people worldwide? What metrics distinguish or categorize high-, middle-, and low-income nations? What is relative, absolute, and subjective poverty?

    Compare modernization and dependency theory in terms of global stratification. What is the difference between global classification and inequality? What is extreme poverty in a global context? What efforts have the members of the United Nations made to eradicate global inequality and address the needs of the world's population? How do you explain the cyclical impact and consequences of poverty?

    Completing this unit should take you approximately 8 hours.

    • 5.1: What Is Social Stratification?

      In theory, there are two systems of stratification. In an open system, social mobility is possible, ideally based on merit. In a closed system, social position is based on birth, and there are no opportunities for social mobility.

      How does your social class affect your life chances? Can you name some things people living in the lower class cannot access, in addition to homes and luxury items? How does lower class status affect your chances at upward social mobility? Compare the three theoretical approaches to social stratification: class, caste, and meritocracy. How would Karl Marx view the Davis-Moore thesis?

    • 5.2: Stratification and Mobility

      Sociologists use wealth and income to determine one's socioeconomic status. Notice how your social class impacts your life experiences, overall opportunities, and the likelihood of social mobility. Pay attention to the differences between absolute, relative, and feminization of poverty. How has your social class impacted your life experiences?

    • 5.3: Global Stratification and Inequality

      Global stratification is often more pronounced than social stratification within a country because the vast extremes of wealth we see in the United States are more severe in low and middle-income nations.
    • 5.4: Race and Ethnicity

      Historically, we define race based on physical and social characteristics. Ethnicity refers to a shared culture. Contrary to popular opinion, minority group status is not based on the relative size of the group compared to the majority group; it is based on the subordinate status or less power of the group. So, for example, Black residents had minority status in South Africa during apartheid, although their population was much greater than the number of White settlers who ruled the country.

    • 5.5: Gender, Sex, and Sexuality

      This section introduces the differences between sex, gender, and sexuality. Sex refers to our primary biological sex characteristics (male or female) typically associated with the penis or vagina. Gender is the behaviors attributed to each sex (masculine or feminine). In American society, men are seen as more biologically masculine, and women are seen as more feminine. Notice that sex is ascribed and gender is achieved.

      Sexuality is the capacity to experience sexual feelings. Sexual orientation is connected to who we are attracted to. How have our attitudes associated with sex and sexuality shifted? Notice how feminist and queer theories articulate sex and sexuality.

    • 5.6: Aging and the Elderly

      Here, we explore the biological, social, and psychological changes associated with aging and how social factors affect how we experience aging. Pay attention to the phases of aging (young-old, middle-old, and old-old). Consider how society defines what it means to be old.

    • Unit 5 Assessment

      • Receive a grade