The Echoes of the Mind (157-1) Social Stratification

Social Stratification

Social stratification is a system of structured social inequality. ~ Margaret Anderson & Howard Taylor

Status stratification is an inherent social dynamic in primates, and in other clades of animals, such as birds. Even insects have dominance hierarchies beyond biological castes. Burying beetles are one example of many.

Primates’ status (position) typically correlates with their power (resource control). ~ Susan Fiske

Hereditary lineage provides inheritance of social standing for many creatures. In modern human societies, this is accompanied by material wealth.

In all societies – from those that have barely attained the dawning of civilization, down to the most advanced – 2 classes of people appear – a class that rules and a class that is ruled. ~ Gaetano Mosca

Italian political theorist Gaetano Mosca observed in his 1896 book The Ruling Class that societies are necessarily governed by minorities. His cogent logic was as follows: societies require organization; organization necessitates leadership; leadership is ipso facto an inequality of power; selfish human nature means that people in power will use their positions to reward themselves and their sycophants.

Competition between individuals of every social unit is focused upon higher position, wealth, authority, control of the means and instruments that enable a person to direct many human activities, many human wills, as he sees fit. ~ Gaetano Mosca

Mosca considered the foregoing to be invariable facts of life, with social stratification inevitably running along the lines of power.

All human societies tend to be structured as systems of group-based social hierarchies. Among other things, the dominant group is characterized by its possession of a disproportionately large share of positive social value, or all those material and symbolic things for which people strive. ~ Felicia Pratto & Jim Sidanius

Unlimited private property altered how social stratification is determined among humans: wealth became the paramount signifier of status. The social power of wealth is expressed most directly by limiting the ability of others to acquire affluence.

Employment discrimination produces and maintains group-based social hierarchy. ~ Felicia Pratto & Jim Sidanius

With rare exception, social stratification has been universal in human societies. Its enforcement is primarily, though by no means exclusively, economic in nature.

Stratification has varied in the degree to which social mobility is tolerated. Particularly clever and socially adept individuals rise in cultures which afford social mobility.

Dumb money in and of itself does not necessarily grease a significant social slide. The reason for this is that humans have escaped the necessity for survival cunning beyond civil conversation, and even such a deficiency is often overlooked. In modern societies money talks, and insidiously controls the conversation. In contrast, other animals face survival challenges, and so ingenuity is a valued trait, and a harbinger for social climbing.