Structural-Functionalist and Social Conflict The study of social stratification is the study of class, caste, privilege, and status that is a characteristic of a particular society. It often varies according to how society is organized especially in terms of production and work. The definition of social stratification is differential ranking of human individuals who compose a given social system and their treatment as superior or inferior relative to one another in certain socially important respects (Parsons, Analytical Approach to Social Strat,69). The structural-functionalist theorist, believe that society can be subdivided into its various parts: economy, ecology, religion, sexuality, and so on and then be analyzed from the different sections listed. Social inequality plays an important role in the running of our society.
This influential and controversial argument was set forth some fifty years ago by Kingsley Davis and Wilbert Moore(1945) (Macionis,245). The structural-functionalist, believe that a society that has unequal rewards will operate more smoothly and make people want to strive to do better things with their lives. A person who washes cars for a living compared to a lawyer, says that one worked harder to get where they are, and the lawyer receives more pats on the back than the car washer ever will. We live in a society in which you must work for everything you get. Some have more ambition than others, which makes our world run the way it does.
Social-conflict theorists on the other hand see the social stratification term from a whole other perspective. They say that rather than helping the society as a whole, the social stratification only benefits certain groups while taking away from the left over amounts. Opportunities and wealth are often passed down in families, but our system stops the pattern with their inheritance law (www.ucg.edu.lmt.soc.com). The productive system has brought great disparities in our productive system. Karl Marx also thought that misery would drive the working majority to organize and ultimately overthrow capitalism.
In conclusion, both the structural-functionalist and the social conflict theorists have very strong and explained theories. I believe that in todays world the structural-functionalist theory is very accurate and seems to be true in our everyday lives. The media makes it so clear to everyone that an education is the only way to make it in the world. The United States has advanced tremendously in the past century and continues to expand in technology, making it essential to have a college background and extensive educational background. Its our choice on where we want to go in life and I feel that no one can shape it for us, we must do it ourselves.