Stratification is the act of arranging people into social classes. This would categorically place people into various classifications depending on factors and conditions around their lives. The classifications could range from financial status, education to politics. This paper seeks to discuss social stratification system in the United States in relation to economic status of individuals. The paper will look at the characteristics of economic status at each class and contribution of economic status to social stratification.
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Social Stratification System in the United States
Social stratification is a common aspect of human life all over the world. The major social classes that are equivalently evident in the United States of America are the upper class, the middle class and the lower class. The classes play a major role in defining peoples’ lives both in the current and the future times.
Social stratification arises when inaccessibility to “resources, services and positions in a society” (Kerbo 10) varies and the general system dictates opportunities. It is also important to note that stratification only exist when there are regulations pertaining to the accessibilities of social amenities (Kerbo 10).
Economic status is one of the aspects generating the social classes. Others are prestige and political power. All these aspects seems to have a degree of association for example, it has been noted that wealthy people stand higher opportunities up the political ladder than the ones in poverty. Economic inequality was established in the United States as much as other industrialized countries by the early years of 1980s.
Also important in the classification criteria are factors like education. On top of the social class, the upper class is however dominated by descending generations of former elite. The economic basis classifies people into upper class of the economy’s top earners, middle class and the lower class of the relatively poor people of the economy (Kerbo 55).
According to Morton (2009), the upper class consists of just about 1.4 percent of the American population. Most of the members of this class inherited their wealth while others have acquired it through investments (Morton 1).
The class however small by percentage composition of the American population, own about 25% of the economy. This class, being exceptionally rich, lives in extravagance as regards their homesteads and their social places. They also have the privilege of affording their children the best schools in America (Cliff 1).
The Middle Class
The second class in the ladder is the middle class. It consists of educated professionals ranging from secretaries to teachers all the way to the highly educated people like “businessmen, doctors, lawyers, stockbrokers and CEOs” (Cliffs 1). This group has a relatively average income (Cliffs 1). In the American economy about 30% of the population falls in the middle class with their household income averaging from $50,000 to $90,000 and an average individual income ranging from $27500 to $52500 per year.
The Lower Class
The lower class forms about 45% of the America’s population. Their household earning ranges between $12000 and $50000 per annum (Cliffs 1). This class is quite underprivileged and misses some of the best services provided by the best social institutions in the society.
Moving Across the Classes
Locklin claimed that moving from one social class to another requires steps and measures that can help one jump from one class to another. Locklin argued that jumping to the upper class would require steps like making wise decisions investment issues, one’s parents, participating in some kind of sports and attending some special schools.
These suggestions are actually out of natural reach in general. It is common knowledge that one cannot choose his/her biological parents as in the case of adoption. Sports are also talents that can only be nurtured and not taught. The school to attend is also to a large extent dependent on your parents’ income, a direct relation to a social class. Locklin in other words is bringing the implication that it is relatively hard for one to quickly from one class to another (Locklin 1).
The economic status of an individual is a major contribution to the social inequality structure. This applies to an individual as well as the individual’s descendants. This is the view under the consideration that climbing the social class ladder would imply an increased income. A lower class member earning $12000 per annum would for example require capital to either invest in a business or in education.
The low income which could barely be enough to sustain the household can not provide the capital. This to a large percentage is applicable to moving from low to middle class as well as from middle to upper class. A restrictive boundary is therefore observed maintaining the status quo of people in their respective social classes over generations. There are however exemptions like where a child from a lower class possessing football or basketball talent end in a top club and gain economic advancement.
The structured inequality in America is just an illustration of natural imbalance. External forces like government and private sectors’ support is needed to boost people economically. Support from the government can offer affordable loans, sponsorships, among others. This could help in meeting education cost into well paying professions. A change in government policy like the tax policy could also relieve the poor of the tax paying burden at the expense of influential upper class people who use politicians to influence these policies.
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Cliff, Note. Types of Social Classes of People. Cliff Notes, 2011. Web.
Kerbo, Harold. Social stratification and inequality: class conflict in historical, comparative, and global perspective. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2002. Print.
Locklin, Scott. Social Classes: the Upper Class in America. Alternative Right, 2010. Web. <http://www.alternativeright.com/main/blogs/zeitgeist/social-classes-the-upper-class-in-america/>
Morton, Linda. Social Class Segmentation Reveals Class Characteristics. Strategic Market Segmentation., 2009. Web.