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Class and Social Structure

Essay by   •  December 31, 2010  •  Essay  •  835 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,298 Views

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This week in class we dealt with the subject of varying types of social structures. To start there are open and closed systems. An open systems allows for an individual to move up or down in society where as the closed system allows for no mobility. The only closed system I am familiar with is the caste system in India. In a closed social system you are born into your class and that is the same one you will grow up in. While discussing this subject it would be helpful to define class in the manner we did as a group: class, in this context, is unequal access to economic resources, power, and prestige. In contrast to a class system an egalitarian system has equal access to these aspects of living. A rank system only has unequal access to prestige and, as discussed in class, is seen in Pacific Islanders, and some Native Americans in the North and Southwest. Although the US social system is open we tend to stay in the same class. It is said that the head of the household dictates the class. Many problems in this country circulate around the problem that there is very little mobility in class in the United States however, in Japan, Italy, and Germany there is even less mobility. At first one may feel it is less of a problem in the United States yet, I disagree. In the sense of social structure I do not think you can really compare two separate nations and draw conclusions about one based on the other because there are too many factors that make up a society. Social history, dispersion of race as well as religion, and the difference between the classes all need to be taken into great consideration. Even though I am not very familiar with the European social structure I do know that in America there is an enormous gap between upper, middle and lower classes. The top 1% of our economic bracket controls a little under 50% of the money in America. That fact is amazing to me and I found it in a document named "People like us: Social class in America" by, Paul Fussel.

Another reason this inequality in America is such a big deal is because The United States of America is an institution based on ideals. A culmination of these ideals is commonly represented in the faÐ"§ade of the American Dream: A person can determine his or her own destiny and with a little bit of know how and determination they can rise from rags to riches. Even with this vision supposedly governing our country it is an obvious fallacy because the same people stay rich leaving the same people poor. Not only are the poor staying poor and the rich staying rich but the poor are getting even poorer and the rich richer. Currently

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