In the case of the United States, economic, gender and social stratification has changed over the centuries (Tischler, 2010). The significant changes in economic, gender and social stratification are brought about by changes in the political, economic, and social landscape of this nation. There is one major transition point that played a critical roles in the said transformation.
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This is the transitions from an economy dependent on manual labor to an economy based on mechanization and other forms of technology that resulted in the industrialization of the nation. These transitions on the other hand were aided by the effective expansion and development of the education system in this country.
Before the United States became a geopolitical nation, it was a colony controlled by the British Empire. In that period of time before America was a sovereign state, the British introduced slave labor. Therefore, the social stratification during this period was simplified into farmers, plantation owners and slaves.
The farmers will be considered poor by today’s standards but they are better off if compared to the Negro slaves. The economy was based on agriculture. It was also a male dominated society. Women played minor roles in nation building and focused on domestic work.
The industrialization of the United States coincided with the emancipation of the Negro slaves. Beginning in the latter part of the 19th century the issue of race became a major bone of contention in different social spheres. Former Negro slaves were no longer forced to work under a slave master or a plantation owner. However, they were treated second-class citizens.
More importantly the former slaves did not own any property; have very little money; and mostly illiterate. The Southern states can be characterized by extreme poverty especially if one considers the plight of the former slaves. In the Northern states, the social, gender and economic stratification was affected by industrialization.
Farmers who used to work in the farms migrated to the cities. Industrialization created new social classes because the workers are paid on an hourly basis. They have no share of the profits and those who had the capital to establish factories raked in the majority of the income of the said enterprise.
Industrialization was not only limited to the Northern states, factories began to sprout all over America. Industrialization proved to be an efficient way to harness resources and it did not take long before the economic benefits trickled down to the masses. A new social class was created in the 20th century and these are:
- Upper class;
- Corporate class;
- Middle and working class;
- Those who are poor (Andersen & Taylor, 2011).
Technology enabled many to achieve greater economic success. Based on the new social order and economic power of individuals, many Americans were able to access higher education. As a result the feminist movement succeeded in promoting gender equality in the workplace and the homes (Kendall, 2011).
The transformation of the economic, gender and social stratification in this country was brought about by changes in the political, economic and social landscape. The highpoint was the transition from manual labor to industrialization as well as the rapid changes in technology that paved the way for new social classes in the 21st century.
It has to be pointed out that when America was still a colony of the British empire, the socio-economic stratification was simple. The upper class was comprised of plantation owners and the rest were farmers. The introduction of Negro slaves created another social class, nevertheless, the stratification was simple. But the advent of industrialization, coupled with significant changes in the economic and political spheres paved the way for greter social mobility.
Andersen, M., & Taylor, H. (2011). Sociology: The essentials. OH: Cengage Learning.
Kendall, D. (2011). Sociology in our times. OH: Cengage Learning.
Tischler, H. (2011). Introduction to sociology. OH: Cengage Learning.