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Understanding Social Stratification: UK Theories, Gender & Ethnicity

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Introduction - Social Stratification Theories in the UK

Social stratification focuses on various categories of people based on socio-economic factors. As per the Western culture, society has 3 three classes - upper class, middle class and lower class. In this assignment, the importance of social stratification in social studies will be explored. Various theories and debates which are associated with social stratification in the United Kingdom will be mentioned in this assignment as well. On the other hand, gender and ethnicity and their significant roles in society will be addressed as well.

Question one :

Definition of social stratification

Social stratification is nothing but the social classification based on socio-economic factors. Factors like wealth, education, family reputation, ethnicity etc can influence social stratification. According to sociologist, Pitirim A. Sorokin, a population is generally given hierarchical power with the means of social stratification. Unequal distribution of wealth, power and other resources may differentiate a population in various small clusters. These clusters of unequal division are the results of social stratification. According to sociologist Karl Marx, social stratification is a result of the relations of human beings with various means of production. The productive nature of human beings and the purposes behind the production of wealth or any kind of labours are the main reasons for social stratification. The nature to produce more to enjoy more, has given rise to the unequal distribution in the society and Karl Max tried to focus on that only (Sanderson, 2018). As per Max Weber, social stratification is basically division of society into distinct communities influenced by economic class, political power and social status. Max Weber gave importance to social status more while not overlooking the other two factors to demonstrate the meaning of social stratification. Social status often is responsible for the division of various groups in the society to enhance the growth more. Max Weber understood the basic concept behind the social stratification and tried to explain it in that way only (Obeng-Odoom, 2020).

The importance of social stratification in societal study

The study of social stratification is quite necessary to understand the foundation of societal study. An example of social stratification is the caste system. While studying the reasons behind social stratification it will be quite easier to understand the mindsets of human beings operating in the same society. At the same time the importance of various external factors like education, wealth, sex, race and their influence on the society can be studied well if social stratification is understood well enough (Baier and Lang, 2019). Various ranks in the society and the reasons behind their emergence will be easily understood if the concept of social stratification is clear enough. On the other hand, to gain access to various resources and more privileges, the western society also believes in social stratification. The requirements of these resources in a person's life can be understood while giving importance to social stratification. Inequality while distributing the social resources, less abundance of educational privileges etc can be studied with the right approach of social stratification theory. Many sociologists put emphasis on social stratification while studying societal study, to understand the reasons behind the division of society. It will give a clear idea on how the society actually works while dividing into various groups based on some other external factors. How the lower classes are rejected by the upper class , how they are not getting enough resources to help themselves all can be known if the foundation of social stratification is well understood. The reasons behind various caste distributions in Indian society, wealth distribution in Korean society etc can be understood with the theories of social stratification (Doob, 2019).

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Question two :

Self perception of individuals

The United Kingdom, like any Western country, has divided its society into three categories. Upper class, middle class and lower class people are the main debatable topics of this discussion. Self perception refers to the self image with proper mixture of values and self esteem. Understanding self perception is not an easy quest. In the United Kingdom, people believe in individualism. They may believe in social classes but at the same time they tend to stay aloof a bit from each other. Self perception of the population in the United Kingdom can be understood using cognitive dissonance theory by Leon Festinger and Self perception Theory by Daryl Bem.

Cognitive dissonance theory

This theory was introduced by Leon Festinger. In this theory, it is said that cognitive dissonance is a state where due to conflicts of ideas, beliefs discomfort will arise. It will enhance the level of discomfort only. At the same time, in attitude and behaviour one could easily see some kind of discrepancies. While witnessing the rise of various social groups in the United Kingdom, this state can be easily seen. The civilians believe in social stratification while they are experiencing individualism influenced by the western culture. The conflict of these two beliefs will raise a sense of discomfort amongst the people living in the United Kingdom. Self perception will be easier when they will feel this discomfort while analysing it (Harmon-Jones, and Mills, 2019).

Self perception theory

This is an contradictory theory of the previous one and introduced by Daryl Bem. This theory believes that people learn from their own behaviour and attitudes and try to change themselves while drawing a proper conclusion. Logical observations will be provided with the help of this theory. British people while trying to understand their self perception will help them immensely. They can rectify their faults while observing their behaviour and attitudes in the past. At the same time, they can easily understand what they lack if there is any (Woosnam et al., 2018). 

Social perception of individuals

It is very much important to understand how the society perceives individuals. In the United Kingdom, the people are often perceived by the society. A few theories can help to understand the affects of social perception on the civilians. Society often wants the people to behave accordingly. As per the common rules, the society wants to divide the population in three groups. Society's perception is that human beings should act according to their social status. Jones's correspondent inference theory and Kelley's covariation theory are used to understand the social perception of individuals in the country.

Jones's correspondent inference theory

Jones's correspondent inference theory tells that people often anticipate the characteristics of others while learning their freely chosen behaviours. Often the expectation of the behaviour plays a vital role in this theory. The degree of choices of that particular individual often plays a significant role. The intentions behind the behaviour is an important influencing factor. As per the theory, society also learns about others while observing them very keenly and society makes some conclusions about the person. It is also significant while understanding the roles of participants in a particular group to understand the social perception of those participants (Nasir Zadeh et al., 2020).

Kelley's covariation theory

Kelley's covariation theory refers to the usage of three types of covariation information like consensus, distinctiveness and consistency. This theory solely talks about attributions that are made utilising the covariation principles. In the United Kingdom, the countrymen also are perceived using information like consensus, distinctiveness and consistency. The society thinks of the individuals as per their attributes which is highly motivated by covariation principles (Tomlinson, 2018).

Question three

Significance of ethnicity and gender in social stratification

Race, wealth, social background, education etc socio-economic factors often influence social stratification. Often gender, country etc also plays important roles in social stratification. Gender refers to the social characteristics of a man and woman. Ethnicity simply refers to division of human beings based on their cultural backgrounds. Both have legit significance while stratification of society is done. While talking about the significance of gender in social stratification, it is often observed that men are more privileged. Women having enough knowledge or experience do not get enough privileges in society. Gender stratification is a term which is often associated with social ranking style where men overpower women, transgenders etc in Great Britain. At the same time, often men tend to get more opportunities in the workplaces while women and other genders do not get such facilities. Women are often seen as soft human beings while men are expected to do more physical work. In every aspect of society, women and other genders are being suppressed due to the social stratification. Achievement of men is often celebrated in Great Britain when achievements of other genders are often overlooked for some reason (Grusky, 2019).

At the same time, ethnicity often plays a significant role in social stratification in Great Britain. The term, ethnicity stratification simply refers to the fact that often a few ethnic groups get privileges while others do not. This also creates a stratification in the society because of unequal distribution of resources for various ethnic groups. Americans, Europeans often get many privileges in Great Britain because of their powerful nation and ethnic group. Asian groups often feel intimidated because of them and the resources are distributed likewise. Ethnicity is utilised as a main criterion while distributing resources as per the social divisions. It is also given enough importance while more aid is provided to the Americans, Europeans. Their lifestyle is way more upgraded than the Asians and Africans. High degree of competition and differential power can be observed while distributing the resources to many ethnic groups. Ethnicity actually divides the human beings in various groups based on their cultural backgrounds and the privileged groups often take advantage of this. Various ethnicities dewelling in Great Britain, are given privilege in every aspect of life while a few literally do not get enough chances to shine. It is quite important to provide more chances to various ethnic groups so that they can grow simultaneously with the others (Grusky, 2019). In the country, most privileges are gone to the British people as usual. Americans and other Europeans get privileges because of their skin colour and similarity in the cultural backgrounds.


Social stratification is often responsible for unfair social norms. Due to social stratification often human beings are divided into various social groups. In this assignment the importance of social stratification is covered up. The main concern is various models and theories of social stratification used in the United Kingdom. Role of gender and ethnicity in society is also given importance.


Baier, T. and Lang, V., (2019). The social stratification of environmental and genetic influences on education: New evidence using a register-based twin sample. Sociological Science, 6, pp.143-171.

Doob, C.B., (2019). Social inequality and social stratification in US society. Routledge.

Grusky, D., (2019). Social stratification, class, race, and gender in sociological perspective. Routledge.

Harmon-Jones, E. and Mills, J., (2019). An introduction to cognitive dissonance theory and an overview of current perspectives on the theory.

Nasir Zadeh, F., Zangi Abadi, M. and Molla Imeny, V., (2020). The Application of the Correspondent Inference Theory (Attribution theory) in the Behavior of Investors with a Quasi-Empirical Approach. Journal of accounting, accountability and society interests, 10(3), pp.117-134.

Obeng-Odoom, F., (2020). Property, institutions, and social stratification in Africa. Cambridge University Press.

Sanderson, M.R., (2018). Everything flows… unevenly: social stratification in coupled socio-ecological systems. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 33, pp.51-57.

Tomlinson, E.C., (2018). The contributions of attribution theories to trust research. In The Routledge companion to trust (pp. 245-266). Routledge.

Woosnam, K.M., Draper, J., Jiang, J.K., Aleshinloye, K.D. and Erul, E., (2018). Applying self-perception theory to explain residents' attitudes about tourism development through travel histories. Tourism Management, 64, pp.357-368.

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