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Compare and contrast the functionalist and conflict views of social stratification.

 

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Functionalists believe that every aspect of society plays a role in keeping society stable.  Therefore, they argue that stratification does this.  They say, for example, that stratification increases stability by preventing people from moving out of the social group that is occupied by friends and relatives.  

By contrast, conflict theory argues that aspects of society come about through conflict between groups.  They would argue that stratification is caused by members of the dominant group winning out in the conflict with other groups.  The dominant group then imposes stratification so as to be able to keep its dominant position.

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Compare and contrast the functionalist and conflict views of social stratification.

These perspectives have very different views of social stratification.

To functionalists, stratification can be a good thing.  It is (like everything in their eyes) something that helps keep society stable.  It gives incentives for people to try to improve themselves (so they can be part of the upper class).  It can also be seen as a way to make sure society runs well because those at the top of the hierarchy will have the greatest talent and ability and therefore should be the ones controlling society.

In the conflict view, social stratification comes about through conflict.  It is a way for the elites of society to ensure that people from other classes do not encroach upon elite privileges.  In this view, stratification comes about through elite actions to suppress the masses.  An example of this might be that American elites (this view would say) ensure that lower classes have poorer education so they will remain poor.

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