The Challenging Issue of Social Inequality
The challenging issue of social inequality is addressed by Kingsley Davis and Wilbert E. Moore, in their article “Some Principles of Stratification” and other works, in the positive context, as they claim that social stratification is the function of any social system and is an indispensable condition for its development. Regarding social stratification as inherent to any social structure, the authors of the article point out that “different positions carry different degrees of prestige” in society, which predisposes the “universal presence of stratification”, in both competitive and non-competitive systems (Davis and Moore 242).
It is in the best interests of all the members of society to have the most valuable positions to be filled by persons having the best qualifications, which creates the basis of the unequal distribution of rewards. In this manner, the distribution of rewards becomes an important mechanism reflecting the demands of society and the social order, which is in “a continuous process of metabolism” (Davis and Moore 242). There can be only a limited number of individuals capable of filling in the most important positions and people who undergo training to acquire the necessary skills make certain sacrifices to achieve competences and qualifications. Melvin M. Tumin argues that “the assumption that there must be something both inevitable and positively functional” about social stratification is false (Tumin 387). Neither society nor experts have reliable ways of defining which positions are more important. In fact, such positions may be different in various societies and at different stages of their development.
The thesis that only a limited number of individuals have talents sufficient to be trained for filling in important positions originates, according to Tumin, from the existing structural stratification system, which provides a limited access to adequate studying and training. The argument concerning personal sacrifices looks ambiguous considering unequal opportunities in access to training and expenses on education, in terms of their share in the family income, not to mention the aspects of prestige and moral rewards. Therefore, social inequality cannot be understood as inherent to the social order.
Davis, Kingsley, and Moore, Wilbert E. “Some Principles of Stratification.” American Sociological Review 10.2 (1945): 242-259. Print.
Tumin, Melvin M. “Some Principles of Stratification: A Critical Analysis.” American Sociological Review 18.4 (1953): …