Gender Stratification

Lately the talk of how women don’t have the same rights as men do. Men have the better physical or social power then women do but it’s because the men don’t give the women a chance to use those power’s. Men don’t believe we are like them, that we are weak and can’t do the same things as men can. You see more men in office or as lawyers; the woman are secretaries or are waitresses.  But people say you don’t see women as more violent with men, but in reality we do have just as much viloence then men. You see more women beating the crap out of cheating men or in past couple years women as child moulester in schools. Women do have some power but men have a lot more.

Race Stratification and Social Security,

Last week, I saw a fascinating interview with Max Richtman, of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security, on PBS.  He explained why race stratification is alive and well regarding the Republican’s push to raise the Medicare and Social Security eligibility requirements. In recent years, the average lifespan of blacks has increase a couple of years and the average lifespan of whites has increased a bit, but whites still live an average of 3-5 years longer than blacks.  This means that more blacks who spend their working life paying into Social Security and Medicare often die before getting to receive or die early on in receiving these benefits.  By raising the age eligibility, it rigs the system (institutional discrimination) against blacks, just as they were getting closer to an even playing field regarding lifespan with whites.  President Obama stated at one point that he was open to this discussion, but now that he is pushing for the 2% tax increase for the rich, he has taken that off the table until the Republicans give in to that.

Class Stratification

The remarkable thing about the United States is that the top 1% earns a huge share of the national income and also an even higher amount of the nation’s wealth. There is a statistical ratio called the Gini Coefficient, which allows a country to be placed somewhere between 0 and 100 according to income inequality. A ranking of 0 would mean that everyone in the country had the same amount of income, while a ranking of 100 would mean that one person earns all the income. The table I found used household income, not individual income, and used data from the CIA in 2010. Sweden was at the lowest number, with a Gini of 23. The United States was ranked at #93 out of 133, at 45.0.  South Africa was the highest at 63.0. There is a hugely disproportionate distribution of wealth in our country, and although it might not be the worst, it’s close to it. The top ten percent of people own up to 94% of stocks, and 80% of non-home real estate. The financial wealth in figure 1 of the UCSC website shows that effectively, ten percent of people own the financial sector of the United States. This is a startling figure, and should be taken with a grain of salt, but the point is that very few control so much of the economy. With wealth comes power, and the super-rich can use their influence to buy politicians, influencing politics, deciding who runs the country and how they do it. People always talk about the 1% as a cutoff for the super rich, but the top .1 percent also has an even more concentrated amount of wealth, and could be in their own category concerning wealth and income.

College Potentials

 College Potentials

Class stratification is defined as a hierarchical arrangement of people by some characteristic considered important to a society or social group.

In our society your social class is first seen through the education system. As young as preschool, based on your social class, if you are in the higher class structure your child has all ready began receiving better education through attending preschool, learning how to count, say the alphabet or spell their name. In elementary school, children are in certain reading groups, children from a higher social class are generally in the more advanced groups because of their parents taking the time to read with them every night, instilling the value of how important education is. While the child from a lower class might be in the under average class because their parents are working two jobs and do not have the time to invest in their child’s reading skills and teaching them that education is not as important as working. In high school, the tracking system determines what type of classes you will be enrolled in, vocational, standard or honor classes. Based on your social class, you were most likely to be in vocational classes if you were from a lower class family, standard classes if you were from middle class, and in honor classes if you were from high class family. Tracking is a formalized sorting system that places students on “tracks” (advanced versus low achievers) that bring about inequality. While educators may believe that students do better in tracked classes because they are with students of similar ability and may have access to more individual attention from teachers, conflict theorists feel that tracking leads to self-fulfilling prophecies in which students live up (or down) to teacher and societal expectations (Education Week 2004).

Students produce what a teacher expects. If a child is in standard classes they are not given the teachers that instill what is needed to succeed in college and the student is not be able to do college level work and will most likely not attend college or be able to afford to go. On the other hand, the student in honor classes have the opportunities to have teachers that are giving them the tools and expectations of what is needed to be accepted and to be successful in college and they will most likely go to college and they can afford to go too.

Who wants to be a Millionaire???

Class stratification is a hierarchical structure based on how much money someone has or earns.   Social class defines much of who we are in America.  Most of us are part of the middle or lower class, but the American dream is that we can work hard and make more money and provide a comfortable life for ourselves and our families.  There are other ways to get there though.  The lottery has become part of the American dream.  Pay your dollar and you could end up with hundreds of millions of dollars overnight!

Article one gives an example of a Michigan woman who won a million dollars and spent it all on a house, then continued to collect food stamps.  She thought it was alright because she didn’t have a job.  She was eventually cut off from state assistance and ended up dead less than a year later.

It begs the question of whether or not this is normal.  Article two discusses the financial outcomes of over 1900 lottery winners in Florida.  Many ended up bankrupt or even dead.  In our class discussions, we discussed how lack of education or socioeconomic status in childhood could impact your ability to move up to a higher social class.   It could be as a result of a self-fulfilling prophecy, where those around you expect you to fail and treat you as though you will, causing failure.  I could be a result of the lack of finances to take the next step.  But what about when the financial security is just handed to you?

In a way, it does come down to an education piece.  We spend so much time focused on sociology and science and math, and not enough time on how to handle our finances if and when we do achieve the American dream.  There are websites dedicated to how to handle yourself in case of winning the lottery (Article 3).  They go over the legal ramifications of having money, which most of us never think of.  They also discuss how to invest the money.  This is also a “problem” that many of us will never have to tackle.  Nor would we know how to approach those situations if they were thrown at us suddenly.

Maybe it is time to refocus a little of our energy to teaching children and young adults how to live the American dream… not just balancing checkbooks, but investing and making sure that what you think you need fits into the amount of money you have.  I’m sure that the children of the upper classes are taught this.  Then, when the American dream is thrown into our laps, we won’t meet it with financial failure or death.

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Class stratification

Class stratification is the scale of social classes, upper, middle, and lower classes. Everyone of us is born into a certain class but people are able to move within their class or even between classes, which is called social mobility. As class stratification persists, it widens the gap between the rich and the poor. One example of this takes place back in the 1890’s. When there was a new wave of industrialization within the U.S. there were three main men who “ran the show”, so to speak. Andrew Carnegie, JP Morgan, and John Rockerfeller were men you were born into wealth and made their wealth for their families grow by the time they died. When you combined the three’s wealth it came to more then what the entire country had at the time. Once JP Morgan loaned the country money to get them out of financial trouble. The three were fierce competitors.

They always tried to  “take out”, heave the others go bankrupt or sell, the others. At one point the three joined forces to promote a rebublican, McKinley, who ended up being the president of the United States, Now they had supreme power. This shows that the rich just got richer. These three men made the top 1% of the entire nations wealth. They were to the point that they wanted more money so they had their workers work long hours for little pay. To top it off the conditions they worked in were horrible but the workers needed to feed their families so they had no choice but to take what they got. According to some statistics 1 in every 11 workers died each year due to the conditions.

This is proof, in one way, that the rich just kept getting richer while the poor seemed to barely get by. If the only person in the family was the one who got killed in the factory then the familiy would experience social mobility but it only would go one way it would be for the worse. They would fall from the working class to a lower class and end up in complete poverty.

The websites are information to tell behind these men to show how you need money to make money and to prove that some didn’t treat their workers very kindly.



Racial Stratification

Racial Stratification is the thought that society is separated based race.  That people of similar color for example; Black, White, Hispanic, Asian are stratified by race.  It has nothing to do with biological similarities.  It has to do with the race that you are born into.  We classify people based on perceived differences.  This is how we determine upper class and minorities.

Minorities are not necessarily a group of people that has the least amount of people. It is however, it is a group of people that lack the most power with in a social stratification. The dominant group holds the most social status, power and prestige.  Groups with smaller numbers and less status are set up for discrimination and prejudice.  This is how racism comes about.  This racial stratification carries over into law, education, economy, healthcare and politics. 

We have seen this example with racial profiling.  There are many examples of it still in today’s society.  Just because you are of a color there may be many preset judgments against you. The links below give a few examples of how racial profiling still exists.




Art and Deviance

As we were learning about deviance, I often associated to 19th century French artists who mad efforts to break the middle class norms – or to the contrary, tried hard to integrate and fit in.

There was, for one example, the poet Gérard de Nerval who often walked in the parks of Paris leading his pet lobster on a blue ribbon. Of course he was getting surprised looks from the passers-by: walking a lobster instead of a dog? When pressed for an explanation, the poet just asked back with a false naive attitude: why, what is the difference? A lobster at least doesn’t bark.

While this is an example of violating a folkway in a rather harmless way, other artists in the second half of the 19th century went farther in provocating the public. “You must shock the Bourgeois,” said the symbolist poet Charles Baudelaire. Shocking the middle class through mocking their values and violating their norms became the program of a group of writers referred to as the ‘decadents.’ Many of these poets were interested in the effects of drugs on the consciousness, launching themselves in experimentation, and even founding a ‘Club of Hashish-Eaters.’ (The above-mentioned Gérard de Nerval was a member, along with Victor Hugo and others.)

The theme of drug-induced hallucinations appeared in art and poetry a lot. Also, many artists of the time were a fan of a green-colored alcoholic drink called absinthe, which was believed to be strongly mind-altering (although it probably wasn’t,  but it still became a symbol of decadence). Drinking absinthe, along with going to cabarets, made part of the ‘bohemian’ lifestyle the artists of the Montmartre were famous for. The term bohemian means gypsy-like, and suggests that these artists were standing apart from the mainstream society.

For an artist at the time, finding a respectable place in the contemporary society would have meant to either get large commissions, or to exhibit at the Salon. The latter was an official yearly art show, where the works accepted by a jury were shared with the public. Those artists who did not stick to the fashionable style of the time, but rather tried new ways of painting, had poor chance to get admitted to the Salon. Frustrated, the group of the ‘impressionist’ painters decided to give up trying, and to accept their separate standing, exhibiting their works in alternative ways. (One could associate here to what we have learned about possible reactions to an experience of anomie.)

An exception was Edouard Manet,  who was in fact a bourgeois in his heart, and never gave up trying to become an accepted Salon painter, even though he was regularly rejected – and many of his works were considered as scandalous. One of his masterpieces, The Luncheon on the Grass, was not accepted to the 1863 Salon, but was displayed at an independent art show. Even there, it created a big scandal. A nude woman sitting on the grass, next to two fully dressed men? This would have seemed acceptable to the public if there had been a mythological theme to justify the nudity, but there was none. The picture just represented a group of contemporary people having a picnic.

Human Plastination

We know that deviance is a word used to explain a behavior that violates the “norms.”  As stated in our text The Practical Skeptic on page 173 “To define an act as deviant is to say nothing about whether that act is good or bad, or moral or immoral.  To say that an act is deviant is to say only that it violates the norms of a particular group of people at a particular point of time.”

A good example of this would be Gunther Von Hagens and his art of human plastination.  I’m not sure if any of you have ever been to any of his Body Worlds exhibits, but it is fascinating!

What he does, is in my opinion, a work of art.  But, that opinion does vary.  Death can be hard for people to deal with.  The norm at one time was one of two things, people were either burried or cremated.  When Gunther Von Hagens started the art of plastination, it caused quite a controversy.  Seriously, to embalm someone, strip away various parts of their body, have them naked and on display was appauling to many.

The body worlds exhibit is not only amazing but also a very educational experience for many.  Although it was certainly a break from the “norm” it has it’s benefits and has become a more accepted practice.

Below I have included some links about the exhibit itself, the controversy behind it and general information.


Creativity or Deviance?

Deviance is a variation of the norm, doing something different from what society expects.  When someone is deviant, they usually receive negative sanctions from society, ranging from a dirty look to a prison sentence.  Even if the deviance is positive, like a student who is extremely smart, it can be treated with a negative response; not being accepted into a group of friends or people being angry because they ruined the curve.

Creativity is the invention of a new idea or product.  But what happens when creativity and deviance overlap?  In my retail job, since I have been doing it for so long, I will often have “best practices” or ways of doing things that I have found work well, but differ from the way that the company wants things done.  In these situations, I have 2 choice; do it my way and know I will have success, or do it the company’s way with uncertain results.  There are possible ramifications to doing either.  If I do it my way and fail, I will get in trouble, maybe even fired.  If I do it the company’s way and fail, I may still get in trouble.  The results in this situation determine whether I have been creative or deviant.

The article below discusses a Japanese researcher who continued to do work on a project after the funding was removed.  He was successful in creating an LED and praised for his “creativity”.  But it could have gone the other way for him as well, if he had failed.  Society, in general, provides fewer sanctions for successful deviance than deviance that is unproductive or a failure.