Social Stratification - a functionalist perspective
All functionalist theories on social stratification consider social stratification to be functional and a universal necessity. They study how stratification systems help in maintaining social stability and order.
(i) Tolcott Parson:
1 According to T.P, stability, order in society is based on “Value Consensus” that is general agreement among the members of the society regarding what is good and bad. It is out of these common values that stratification system is born.
Stratification, therefore is the ranking in a social system according to the common values of the society. Therefore those who perform successfully according to society’s values are respected, ranked highly and receive reward. (Therefore Power Differential) Eg: Sioux Indians -> value Bravery as a great virtue. Therefore Brave fighters are placed at a high rank in stratification system.
Eg: American Society -> high value to Individual Achievements in the Economy. Therefore successful business executives are respected and awarded.
2. (Since value consensus is essential part of all societies, Therefore social stratification is inevitable in all society (unlike Marx who considers that there was no social stratification in primitive societies and there will be none in communist societies) – Criticism of Marx.
1. T.P. does not deny a conflict between haves and have notes due to unequal distribution of rewards. But he believes that such a conflict is kept in check by “Common Values” which justify unequal rewards.
2. T.P. considers social stratification as functional, essential. It tends to promote a relationship between social groups that is based on cooperation and interdependence. Because different groups are specialized in different activities and none is self-sufficient).
Therefore Relationship between social groups in one of Reciprocity.
(1) And (4) – Criticizm of Marx.
(ii) Davis and Moore : -
- Presented on of the most famous functional theory of stratification in Article : “Some Principles of Stratification”
Like T.P, they also consider stratification as : -
(ii) Universal Necessity
According to Davis and Moore, all social systems share functional pre requisites which must be met if the system is to survive. One such functional pre requisite is “Effective Role Allocation and Performance” that is –
- All Roles must be filled
- Should be filled by those who are best able to perform them.
- Necessary training must be undertaken
- Roles be performed conscientiously.
All societies need some mechanism for “effective role allocation and performance”. This mechanism is called social stratification. That is system which attaches unequal rewards and privileges to different positions in the society.
Also – People have variable capabilities different positions need different skills. (That is some are more capable than others) -> Therefore an important function of stratification is to match able people with adequate positions. (Effective Role Allocation).
Stratification performs this function by :-
a) Attaching different rewards to different positions
b) Therefore motivating people to compete for those rewards.
Effective Performance is ensured by high rewards attached to important positions and effectively carrying out the duty.
Therefore social stratification ensures – Effective Role allocation and performance.
Hence it is functional necessity in all societies. They view it as a solution to problems faced by social system. There is no other way of solving this problem.