Social stratification is the ranking of people in the society hierarchically. In major societies in the world, some categories of people are more important than others. Max Weber’s writing on social stratification is different from the views expressed by Karl Marx. Social stratification, as expounded by Max Weber, has three major components. These are class, power, and status. Weber’s explanation is that the rankings on power, status, and class produce stratification in the society. Weber’s view of stratification is the market situation. The owners of capital goods, the level of access to education, the technical skills in training, and levels of income define the market situation (Brym and John 229).
Social stratification is also explained by the concepts of power and functionalism. Functionalism values education and training as major elements of social stratification. Through training, some jobs are more valuable than others. People also make sacrifices so that they can acquire critical training to get important jobs, while inequality has to be present to motivate people for the sacrifices. On its part, power is the ability of people in authority to impose their ideologies and wills on others. The two concepts have helped breed inequalities in the society, with the people who have acquired education and training, as well as people with power, have a good social status.
Social stratification is also explained through the concept of social mobility. Social mobility is the movement of people up the social ladder. Few people have the ability to change their social status from rags to riches. Also, social mobility is influenced by occupational structures. This, therefore, stratification is a creation of social mobility. The rich and those with good jobs have a high ability to move up the social ladder as opposed to the poor.
There are several outcomes from the discussion on social stratification. Max Weber’s explanations on social class, status, and parties, as well as discussions on power, functionalism, and social mobility, bring in a deeper understanding of communism and capitalism. Capitalism has been a major source of economic prosperity by advocating for private ownership of resources and competition. Communism does not allow private ownership of goods and opportunities. The arguments furthered in the discussions on social stratification clearly advocate for communism while arguing against capitalism. Capitalism is seen as creating a social wedge between the rich and the poor in society.
Communism, on the other hand, is classless, therefore more unified, and people will be forced to migrate to other regions. Capitalism is introduced as bad for modern society. It is seen in the discussion as capable of creating human conflicts, with the lowly placed in the society antagonizing the rich. The imagination of capitalism in the discussion is that of a society fighting for control of resources, wealth, and power. Competition and private ownership result in high economic progress that leads to employment and high productivity.
The views expressed in the discussion of social stratification raise several issues. First, for a society to be antagonistic with itself, the ideal situation would be many laborers and few wealthy people. Second, social mobility is discussed as an upward and downward elevator, where those with education and hailing from rich families can only move up due to the education they have acquired. I think this is not a good idea because many people will remain poor, and the economy will stay unproductive. Third, the society imagined in capitalism is one that has different economic classes put in a line, with poor economic people at the bottom. At the top, there will be people with political powers that make the poor evade such positions because they are financially lower.
These issues raise an important question: is communism the ideal situation for a uniformly developing society? Predominantly, communism is in Asian countries. Compared with most capitalistic nations, communist countries are worse. For example, many issues on violation of human rights are mostly in communist countries like China and Russia as opposed to capitalistic nations like the USA and Britain.
Brym, Robert and John Lie. Sociology: Your Compass for a New World. New York, N.Y: Wadsworth, 2006.