Social Stratification and Health

Social Stratification and Health
Social stratification describes a system through which a community ranks various categories of people in a hierarchy. For instance, in the United States, certain groups are identified with power, wealth, and higher status than other groups. Such differences are what lead to social stratification. Largely, this paper assesses social stratification and how it relates to community status, human health, and quality of living.
Question 1- Social Stratification
Sociologists use the concept of social stratification to assess the system of social standing. According to Grusky (2018), social stratification refers to the categorization of a society of its individuals into various socioeconomic rankings based majorly on power, wealth, education, income and race. The layers in a society is comprised of community based resources and people who are unevenly distributed throughout the layers. Individuals with an access to more resources represent the upper layer of the social structure of stratification. The rest of the individuals with fewer resources are categorized in the lower layers of a society. According to sociologists, social stratification is a wide system within the society that renders inequalities apparent (Marginson, 2016). The Indian Caste system is an example of stratification system where individuals are categorized in terms of equality, superiority, and inferiority, and children inherit their parents’ function and status using a caste card. In the United States, class or economic cards are used for social stratification whereby people in a given geographical location or categorization identify with a certain quality of life.
Question 2- Social Class Measurement
Social class refers to the various divisions within a society on basis of economic and social status. Morbidity and mortality rates are the two class measurement strategies used to determine a person’s class in modern Britain. High morbidity and mortality rates are often associated with high levels of poverty, while reduce mortality and morbidity rates indicate quality and health living regimes. A class survey is also used to assess the three aspects of economic, social and cultural capital. The classic introduction of social class within Britain was to majorly divide Britain into the middle, working and upper class. In Britain, the working class is the people engaged in manual work and who have a low level achievement, like the factory based work. The middle class includes people who fully engage in manual work, with an educational achievement including lawyers, doctors to clerical workers and can a afford a fairly average lifestyle (Grusky, 2018). The upper class is made up of people who control the majority of power and wealth in Britain. According to a previous study in 2015, 60% of individuals within Britain are categorized as working class, which implies that the ‘class divisions’ have meaning for citizens.
Question 3 & 4 – Marxism and Functionalism
The work of Karl Marx has been drawn upon by a number of conflict theorists. According to Marx, social stratification was as a result of people’s attitude and relationship to production. Individuals either owned production factories or worked in them (Grusky, 2018). The upper class capitalists made huge profits and grew rich through them, while the working group proletariats were entitled to skimpy wages that made them struggle to survive. These groups are therefore divided by power and wealth differences because workers experience isolation, alienation and weak wages due to their powerless status levels. According to Marx, the money-hungry bourgeois oppressed the proletariats. This stratification results into a class conflict. The major strength of Marxism is theoretical because it provides a more humane style of running a society (Grusky, 2018). However, the main weakness of Marxism is that it is not applicable in the real world since it fails to take into account the selfishness and greediness of human value, and relies on individuals to work hard merely because they are required to forego their capacity to become rich using their efforts (Grusky, 2018). In actual world, the Marxist economies have been rendered unproductive and inefficient.
The concept of functionalism assesses the manner a given society operates. From a functionalism perspective, various aspects of a society are still in existence because they serve a significant purpose. It is a consensus perspective that requires a society to be based on norms and values into which people are socialized. Back in 1945, sociologists Wilbert Moore and Kingsley Davis made a publication on the Davis-Moore thesis, which brought out the idea that the more the functional relevance of a social role, the higher the reward (Veliz, 2017). It posits that social stratification is a representation of the inherently unequal value of work. Various societal tasks are more valuable than others, and therefore the qualified individuals filling the positions should be rewarded more than the rest. The major strength of a functionalist regards that it is a macro-level structural theory using an organic analogy to relate to various parts of the society. It gives a framework that enables individuals to co-operate things, define goals they should pursue and writing down rules of how they should operate (Veliz, 2017). However, the functionalist is a contradictory view that believes individuals lack a free will to thrive, even when they do.
Question 5- Health Distribution
Health distribution is majorly determined by various individual, societal, and national factors. Over time, sociologists have documented health distribution inequalities by social class, gender, as well as ethnicity (Mirowsky, 2017). Health inequalities have been estimated using various health outcomes of mortality rates, disability, infant deaths, morbidity, and life expectancy. The social class aspect is of significance because it assesses how the level of income, wealth and education status determines the quality of healthcare services one is provided with. Rich people are more likely to afford health care services of high quality and maintain a lifestyle that does not expose them to threatening situations, as opposed to the poor who might exhibit problems trying to meet medical expenses and a quality lifestyle. With regards to gender, women within the industrialized states live much longer than men, even though they exhibit more ill health.
While men are a higher risk of mortality from single death causes like lung cancer and Ischemic heart issues, more women are victims of somatic complaints like muscular pains, tiredness, pains and headaches. Men are more likely to suffer organizational hazards because they are more involved in life-threatening occupations, such as ones involving machinery and exposure to toxic chemicals. Ethnicity and culture equally play a role in health inequalities. For instance, people born within Asia suffer a higher mortality rates from stroke and coronary heart disease, white the non-white occupants have a reduced mortality rate lung cancer and respiratory issues although a higher rate of mortality to diabetic conditions (Mirowsky, 2017). Ethnic backgrounds define the type of foods people consume, and lifestyle activities that may render some more susceptible to adverse health conditions than others.
Question 6- Morbidity and Mortality
Morbidity refers to the condition of being unhealthy, ill, or diseased. It can entail acute illness (characterized by periodic onset and improvement within a very short time period) and chronic illness (which presents and slowly progresses over a long period of time). A broken arm, flu, or heart attacks are examples of acute illnesses, while the chronic infections include chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, cancer, and diabetes (Case $ Deaton, 2015). Mortality refers to the condition of being dead. Mortality is often used with regards to the number of deaths exhibited within a population over time. The morbidity and mortality information is derived from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s).
Question 7- Graph Analysis
The graph is a representation of the relationship between mortality rates and social class for both men and women. The rate of mortality tends to decrease depending on the quality of social class. Routine and manual backgrounds have higher mortality rates, followed by intermediate backgrounds, and then the managerial or professional background. Across the graph, men have higher mortality rates than women, regardless of the occupation. Mortality rates therefore differ between social classes depending on various dimensions of social position. Therefore, low social classes are exposed to a higher death risks than high class people because the low class groups are exposed to poor lifestyles, limited access to education, life-threatening jobs, and lack of quality medical services and care.
Question 8- Health and Social Class
Explaining the relationship between health and social class is problematic. Over time, social class as a term has been oversimplified and may encompass employment, status, background, wealth, and culture. The existing relationship between ill health and social class is therefore not simple because other than social class, there are several other influences on health (Case $ Deaton, 2015). Therefore, the issue requires a multi-level analysis that incorporates assessment of health inequalities using several other factors. Sometimes, health inequalities still exist between households living with the same place, which makes anyone question the effect of social class in such a scenario.
In conclusion, social stratification is a type of social differentiation whereby various individuals in a community are grouped into various socioeconomic strata, which largely based on derived power, occupation, social status, income and wealth. Various sociological theories have been attributed to the concept of social class and stratification, and how they trickle down on the quality of human health.

Case, A., & Deaton, A. (2015). Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(49), 15078-15083.
Grusky, D. B. (2018). Social stratification: Class, race, and gender in sociological perspective. Routledge.
Grusky, D. B. (2018). Marxian Theories of Class: 14• Karl Marx Alienation and Social Classes. In Social Stratification(pp. 149-164). Routledge.
Marginson, S. (2016). The worldwide trend to high participation higher education: Dynamics of social stratification in inclusive systems. Higher Education, 72(4), 413-434.
Mirowsky, J. (2017). Education, social status, and health. Routledge.
Veliz, P. (2017). Functional Theory of Stratification. The Wiley‐Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social Theory, 1-3.