Social stratification refers to the unequal distribution of income, power, and resources among members of the same community or nation so that some individuals or families enjoy better lives due to higher income and standards of living as compared to those who lead lives in poverty and do not have access to resources like education and food supplies.
Social class refers to a group of people sharing similarities in their social rank and status in society based on their educational qualifications, wealth, income, race, or even the ethnic or minority backgrounds to which they belong. Examples of the social class include segregation in society based on education which stratifies individuals as engineers, doctors, laborers, government officials, businessmen, etc. Similarly, the income levels of individuals also place them in distinct groups of the lower middle class, middle class, or higher middle-class citizens, which will be determined by the wealth and property owned by individuals and the salary or income of the individuals.
The class an individual belongs to socially determines, to a great extent the behaviors and attitudes of these individuals, for instance, their buying behaviors which would display distinct preferences including the types, quality, or quantity of goods they would prefer. While the higher classes with surplus amounts would engage in extravagant buying behaviors, the middle and lower classes would shop only for necessary goods required for daily living and existence.
Social mobility refers to the extent to which the income or occupation of an individual is determined by the background of the family and parents and their independent contribution to economic progress and development (Beller and Hout, 2006). Social mobility also determines the difference in income from one generation to another, for instance, the difference between the income or wealth of a father and his son. As such, social mobility determines the extent to which an individual has been raised in a society with regard to education, income, wealth, and all other factors which grant a social status in a social or community setting. Social mobility is a crucial measure of the openness of any stratification system and is also a vital aspect of the chances which an individual gets in life (Jones, 2007).
Social change is brought about in society by several factors such as materialistic factors including technology and economic production. Technological changes in society facilitate newer alternatives to society by creating novel opportunities for individuals who have access to greater and enhanced means of livelihood. Additionally, technology enhances the communication between individuals so that the interaction patterns also change and the entire structure of human groups is altered substantially. This change in technology results in a wider change in the materialistic culture of society in general. Social change also occurs in society through changes in the values, philosophy, and beliefs that constitute the idealistic perspectives of society.
There are several factors and determinants of social stratification in society and some of the important ones include the effects of race, gender, ethnicity, and class boundaries such as the business class, working class, and the middle classes (Reynolds, 2008). These classes are segregated or divided based on the total value of wealth, goods, and the lifestyle led by the people belonging to these distinct classes. The stratification of class in any community or country occurs primarily due to the unequal distribution of wealth or goods and property of value so that only a few privileged families or individuals enjoy the benefits of a good life while those who do not enjoy these benefits have to struggle for existence.
The changes which have occurred in my life due to technology have been highly positive. Through the overall social changes, I have experienced greater sensitivity and acceptance of migrant and ethnic groups, than were prevalent in previous society. Moreover, the prospects of success are now determined by the educational qualifications and skill levels of individuals as opposed to the race or background of individuals.
Beller, Emily, and Michael Hout (2006) Intergenerational social mobility: the United States in comparative perspective. The Future of Children 16.2: 19(18).
Jones, Marsha (2007) Whatever happened to social mobility? (synopsis) (Column). Sociology Review 16.4: 22(2).