Why is there Social Stratification?: Crash Course Sociology #22



if you ask the medieval peasant whether they liked working two days a week for their Lord while they barely made enough food for themselves they probably say no and if you ask a factory worker today whether they like making a tiny fraction of what their company's CEO makes they probably have a similar answer even though huge numbers of people don't want inequality it still exists and it has for a long time and the systems of stratification that we talked about last week don't really help explain this they can tell us about how this inequality happens but they can't tell us why if we want to answer that question we'll have to return once again to our old friends of the three sociological paradigms structural functionalism social conflict theory and symbolic interactionism let's start with clarifying something pretty important about how sociologists understand inequality even if the peasant and the factory worker both dislike the inequality in their lives they might still believe that it's fair the peasant might say that it's simply their place in the world to toil for their Lord and the factory worker might say that the CEO surely deserves as well and this happened because of their society's ideology for our purposes and ideology is a set of cultural beliefs and values that justify a particular way of organizing society ideology also includes strongly held beliefs about of society's patterns of inequality penny ology can help explain why inequality never goes away but it doesn't on its own explain why we have unequal societies in the first place for that we have to turn to our three paradigms from a structural functionalist perspective we have social stratification because well you know the basic story of structural functionalism by now so say it along with me we have stratification because it's functional for society this is the basic argument of what's known as the Davis Moore thesis put forward in 1945 by Kingsley Davis and Wilbert Moore it argues that society assigns greater economic and social rewards to those jobs that are more important to society this guarantees that difficult jobs will be filled the thinking goes and will draw people away from easier and less important work so the more important the job is for the proper functioning of society the more society rewards it which promotes the effective functioning of that society and also a system of social stratification Davis and more basically argue that without unequal rewards a few people would want the jobs that require the years of training or personal sacrifice to typically come with long work out think medical doctor without the unequal rewards to motivate people we have a lot of lifeguards sunning themselves on the beach and not very many ER Doc's but there are some serious problems with this idea to begin with Davis and more don't talk about how their thesis actually works in society they only talk about why inequality might be functionally useful and this leads to another problem not all jobs that are important are necessarily hard to learn or come with hypen garbage collecting for instance is extremely important for the smooth functioning of society but it's not a particularly high paid socially valued job and this mismatch works the other way too not all highly paid jobs are functionally important for instance ask yourself who is more functional for society a high school teacher or a Fame factor now think about who gets paid more finally David some more also within order the fact that not all paths are equally open to all people if inequality is functional for society because it motivates hard work then society should reflect this by being meritocratic a society in which everyone can work hard and get ahead but as we've already seen this is not the social reality the structural nature of inequality or the ways in which society is organized to the advantage of some groups over others can be a cause of individual success or failure no matter how hard a person works now while Davis and more don't really deal with the impact of inequality social conflict theory very much does for Karl Marx stratification is based on different relations to the means of production at the simplest level 1 class controls the means of production which allows them to extract labour from the other class which controls only their own labor Marx believed that as capitalism progressed the inequality between the bazi and the proletariat would get worse until eventually the proletariat would unite and overthrow the Gavazzi and in doing that he thought they'd ultimately derailed the whole capitalist system and all the inequality that came with it but one of the central criticisms of the social conflict understanding of stratification is that the proletariat revolution never happened in Western Europe or the United States if inequality was so bad for workers why did the revolution not happen well German sociologist ralf dahrendorf argued that marx wasn't wrong about conflict per se but he saw that the conflict that marx observed had changed in several ways that prevented the revolution from happening first Derringer said the capitalist class in europe has been too fragmented to serve as a single target for revolutionaries rather than having just a few capitalists against an ever-increasing proletariat we actually have more capitalists of different kinds business owners and executives and people who own stocks more and more people are invested in capitalism as an economic system and a fragmented capitalist class makes it difficult for workers to focus their revolutionary energies on any one group in addition he argues greater worker organization in the form of unions has allowed workers to fight for better working conditions higher pay and greater control over their labor resulting in an increased standard of living greater legal protections for workers like workers compensation unemployment insurance and Social Security have also worked to prevent the revolution that Marx predicted all of these structural changes in turn helped lead to greater job stability which makes workers less likely to push for revolutionary change but dahrendorf saw that the ideology of capitalism plays a role here as well just as more people are financially invested in capitalism people are also ideologically invested in it but this isn't just a matter of whether people like the system or not ideology determines what people see as available to struggle over fighting for higher wages seems reasonable but abolishing wage labor does not there are more criticisms of Marx than just an absent revolution and one of the more fundamental ones was made by none other than Max Weber specifically Weber argued that Marx's focus on economic stratification was too simplistic Weber pointed out that there are other kinds of conflict to consider Weber argued that stratification actually occurs along three dimensions economic class social status and social power or what sociologists refer to as socioeconomic status this new adds more complexity and nuance to the matter of stratification but as with the structural functionalist approach it's focused only on the macro perspective Marx's theory for example is all about the long historical arc of class conflict but it doesn't really tell us what that looks like in everyday life for a more micro or individual level view of inequality sociologists turn to symbolic interactionism when we first define social stratification we said that it involves putting people into categories symbolic interactionism lets us understand how this actually works because sure what class you're in might come down to how much money you make but how can other people tell what class that is in everyday interaction it's not like people walk around with signs except that they kind of do in the form of conspicuous consumption this is when the products that you buy make statements about your social position finding a really nice bottle of wine for a dinner party or wearing designer sunglasses isn't just about the thing itself it's also about sending a message to anyone who sees it a message that says I'm in the upper class the objects act assigned vehicles carrying meaning just like a written word to some degree all consumption is conspicuous consumption your tastes are shaped by your social position and you use them to define yourself just as others read your tastes to judge you in your position to see how this works let's go to the thought-bubble imagine you're driving in your car with an acquaintance and you want to put on some music the music you choose helps them something about you let's say you put on some really s okay possible obviously this tells your friend that you like it and hopefully that you think they'll like it too but it also tells them you are the kind of person who likes esoteric classical music now if it's not obvious what this has to do with stratification think about the assumptions that your acquaintance is going to make about you that you come from a particular background one that's allowed you to have access to a certain kind of education and upbringing or that you've had years of music lessons they might readily assume that you're the kind of person whose class standing allows them to develop these musical tastes to be clear I'm not saying that these judgments are true lots of people who like classical music are not they wealthy or well educated and saying that assumptions like these tend to be widely held and recognized so when you put on your music your friend might recognize you as a person like them if they share your tastes or maybe they don't recognize you as being like them so they judge you for being pretentious and this isn't because classical music is special somehow it's true regardless of what kind of music you put on and applies just as much to the clothes you wear the books you read and all of your other tastes these are all ways in which people categorize you in the hierarchy as stratification they're the signs you carry around that tell people where you fit in society and how to interact with you thanks that level this kind of judgment and mutual recognition isn't a minor thing it's a powerful force for stratification for instance it can be extremely important in getting a job hiring can often be an exercise in this kind of judgment as managers look for people who fit the culture and will get along well with the rest of the team and it's not just about what you like it's also about how you like it if you decide to start telling people that you like opera because you want to seem upper-class but then you show up to a performance and a t-shirt and flip-flops you're probably not going to get anywhere there's a ton of background knowledge and understanding behind tastes and preferences that you can't just conjure out of nowhere and the difficulty of acquiring this knowledge helps maintain stratification so these three perspectives structural functionalism social conflict and symbolic interactionism can help us better understand not just how stratification work but why we have it today we learned about different theories of stratification we talked about ideology and how it helps stratification reproduce we discuss structural functionalism with the datum or thesis and its problem we talked about Marxist understanding of pasta and vapours criticisms and we saw how symbolic interactionism help explain ratification in everyday life crash course sociology is filmed in the doctor Cheryl C Kinney studio in Missoula Montana and it's made with the help of all of these makes people or animation team is thought cafe and crash course is made with a bit Creative Cloud if you'd like to keep crash course free for everyone forever you can support the series at patreon a crowdfunding platform that allows you to support the content you love thank you to all of our patrons for making crash course possible with their continued 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Comments
  1. Medieval peasants understood their 2 days of labor was feeding the WARRIOR class that did all the fighting and kept raiders at bay.

  2. I really don’t think Marx should be as popular as he is. He had a few good ideas, but overall he was wrong about inequality and what to do about it, among other things.

  3. Although, another reason why Marx's revolution never materialized in capitalist Europe was because Marx's analysis wasn't complete. This is why communists talk of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and not just Marxism. Lenin and Mao's contributions to revolutionary theory and praxis now shape Marx's original theory.

    So yeah, pretty weird we mentioned Dahrendorf and not more mainstream contributors like Lenin and Mao.

  4. i cant actually get over some of these comments. Please tell me you are not going on to actually be Sociologists.

  5. another reason the revolution hasn't happened? Because the oppressive reality of being at the bottom of society makes it very difficult to organize and lead a revolution. Revolutions are traditionally led by middle class and wealthy people, who have the time and energy and education and resources for things like leading and organizing a revolution. The leader of the American revolution was a high-class Virginia slave owner. And upper class people have a vested interest in continuing the existence of inequality.

  6. I'm pretty sure most of the people who commented here are NOT bourgeoisie. So I don't get why there are so much hatred towards the concept of communism or this video itself. Nicole was just teaching us some of the theories about social stratification that can be found in most of the college sociology textbooks.

  7. The result of the social demon crates Marxist agenda social propaganda taught in the Universities'.  I make more money per hour than a doctor. I told my family Doctor that I make more than he does with my plumbing company that I own.  He said why did you become a plumber? I said, because I make more as a plumber than  a doctor:)

  8. Apparently teaching about Marx, an influential sociologist and philosopher = advocating for communism. That's like saying that teaching about Hitler is advocating for Nazis, or teaching about slavery is advocating for it. By that logic nobody can learn anything about history or philosophy, ever.

  9. Another terrifying ideologically affected episode promoting Marxism and socialism that is based on wishes not on real sociological weakness and properties that people have 🙁

  10. Crash Course's ratings and accompanying comment section would make a remarkable case study on the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, or Frequency Illusion, and cognitive bias. When you start seeing communism in everything, you see communism in everything. When you start seeing PC in everything, you see PC in everything. This video is especially sound evidence of this sort of thing in practice. The funny/depressing thing is that everyone spouting out about this video being propagandist or whatever else I bet I could guarantee you partook in many lulz and praised much kek when Melissa Harris-Perry showed the exact same cognitive failure after saying Star Wars is racist. If you really want to know without googling, basically Darth Vader wearing a black suit and being evil meant black is evil, and his alabaster skin when the helmet was removed after becoming good means white is good. It applies to the left, too; start seeing racism in everything, you see racism in everything.

    If you learn to recognize this and try to catch yourself when you see patterns that aren't there, you might just save yourself a whole lot of unnecessary emotional stress and intellectual dishonesty.

    Ultimately, this is about as good as 10 minutes is going to do for a neutral explanation video. Anyone viewing this (and CC overall) as propagandist solely because He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named is in the subject matter should be signalling a damn fireworks display of alarms going off to warn you of deep seated cognitive bias. Take a step back, a few deep breaths, and come back to the video with honesty and integrity before making your final judgement.

  11. I have seen most of the scientific crash courses, aswell as history, which where all good, and wanted to see something else. This on the other hand is truly shamefull and disgusting. To say the author has "bias" is the least. This woman is clearly misrepresenting and showing her opinion.

    Crash Course should replace this person immediately, to not ruin the reputation of their site

  12. Just the mention of Mars caused a hell storm in the comment section. The dislikes are also reflect how people are stupid. This is Sociology, why can’t you all be more cooperative? Also, please read more about communism instead of just saying it is where all power is rested on government.

  13. "Capitalists were hard to oppose because they were fragmented."

    facepalm

    So you lose either when they're united or fragmented? There's no way to win this argument, is there? This is the problem with ideological thinking, you forgo reason to prove a desired argument no matter how the evidence goes.

    Marxism is fraught with ideological thinking. The unfortunate thing is that there are some interesting things in Marx's work, but it's buried under shitloads of militancy.

  14. U should name ur segment sociology in America…. Cause that is all u talk about really can't relate to u in any way… Plz keep ur stuff universal.

  15. Oh god you Americans are so closed minded and foolishly preemptive… You hear the name Marx and you immediately stop listening and dislike the video

  16. Anyone is surprised that the Green bros–people who openly developed a pseudo-educational focused business for the sole purpose of propagandizing of children and hopes of getting into homes and classrooms–are publishing pro-Marxist claptrap? Seriously? That'd be like thinking that The Young Turks (you know, the 'media company' funded by millionaires to run at a loss named after the Turkish version of the Hitler Youth responsible for ethnic cleansing of the Ottoman empire and the Armenian genocide?) channel Think Tank is somehow educational and not just another political propaganda mouthpiece. It's the usual tack of Marxists and Nazi's – pretend to be 'education' focused then push agendas.

  17. Communism doesn't work it never has and it never will; stop shoving the works of a industrial era good-for-nothing and slacker (Karl Marx aka the most useless man in the world) down our throats

  18. First 15 seconds of the video and already a logical fallacy.

    There's a world of difference between an illiterate peasant legally bonded to their lord, with virtually no human rights, no prospect of social mobility, toiling knee deep in the mud and dying young of rheumatism and gangrene…and a factory worker who can make a living wage, who has legal protections, with the option of changing careers or studying to gain the qualifications for a higher paying line of work.

    The medieval peasant would be closer to someone living under a brutal communist regime, slaving in state-run factory for enough roubles to queue in the bread line.

  19. I don't understand, these theories have been tried, it's called Communism, it failed. Why is she acting like this never happened? The time it takes to train for a job and the importance of it go into the pay, when a job that takes forever to train for pays as much as a job that is easy to get, then nobody would train for the more difficult job. This is why Communism failed in practice, this isn't even something to debate anymore, incentive matters, period.

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