Social stratification is the concept that presupposes the existence of different layers of society. Such differentiation is conditioned by the unequal possession and distribution of resources (Beeghley 1). As a result, the different levels or strata occur. According to the most popular classifications, modern societies like the one in the United States are divided into three major social strata. When the representatives of different strata change their position and status in the society, moving upwards or downwards, such a concept is referred to as social mobility.
The first one is upper class or the rich. The people who pertain to this high class are likely to have the best education, work, and status in society. It can comprise influential politicians and business tycoons. The upper class tends to be the narrowest stratum in the society, and it accumulates the biggest amount of economic resources. When it comes to the second level of the social stratification in the United States, it is concerned with the presence of the middle class. According to Weber’s Model, the representatives of the middle class are the “Nonowners of Capital” (Beeghley 13). While Weber defines the upper class as a stratum that aligns rentiers and entrepreneurs, the middle class is likely to include people who work as public officials, managers of businesses, and white-collar workers (Beeghley 13).
These are people who are majorly employed in the knowledge-based fields. The middle class is also referred to a class that is the most “upwardly mobile” (Beeghley 13), while for the representatives of the lower class, it is rather challenging to change their living conditions for the better. The lower class is also called the working class. It connects people who are employed in non-prestigious fields that requires service or physical work.
According to the recent research, the social mobility for this strata is very difficult, as the empirical findings prove that such Americans have only “a 7.8% chance of reaching the top 20%” (The Economist n.p.). Therefore, it is apparent that social mobility also tends to be characterized by the different opportunities for the representatives of diverse strata.
- Beeghley, Leonard. The Structure of Social Stratification in the United States. Routledge, 2015.
- The Economist. “Americans overestimate social mobility in their country.” The Economist, February 14, 2018. Available at: https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2018/02/14/americans-overestimate-social-mobility-in-their-country. Accessed December 28, 2018.