Theories of Social Stratification: Theory of Economic Determinism or Conflict Theory

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Theory of Economic Determinism or Conflict Theory

  • The Marxist theory of social stratification is based on historical materialism.
  • Economic conditions or material conditions of life which determine the rest of the society therefore, hierarchy is nothing but class of a person in the process of production.
  • The ‘haves’ possess control over the means of production and ‘have nots’ work for them and are exploited
  • There is a quote by Karl Marx , “there can only be two classes and the history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggle between these two .”

Weber՚s Trinitarian Model

Three Dimensions:

  • Class: determines life chances and opportunity like attending expensive courses
  • Status: reflected by lifestyle choices like wearing expensive clothes
  • Power: to influence people with or without consent

Functionalist Perspective

  • Kingsley Davis and Wilbert Moore
  • Stratification is universal necessity
  • For functional necessity of the social system
  • To place and motivate individuals in society
  • “Role allocation” and execution
  • Training , skills development, rewards to qualified personnel
  • Ensures most important position is allotted to the best individual – best man for best job
Davis and Moore Theory

Gerhard Lenski

  • A synthesis of conflict theory with the functional analysis
  • Conflict theory questions the need of social needs and functional theory relies on conserving the tradition of continuing stratification
  • As functionalists view stratification as the need of the society
  • Emphasis on needs, desires, and interests of individuals and sub-groups


1. Among the following who has reconciled with the functional and conflict theory of stratification?

  1. Celia S. Heller
  2. Joseph T. Howell
  3. G. Lenski
  4. Wilbert E. Moore

Ans. C. G. Lenski

2. Who made the following statement?

Globalization as a complex multi-dimensional process involving a dialectical relationship between global and local … also leading to new global inequalities and stratification.

  1. Karl Marx
  2. Anthony Giddens
  3. Morris Ginsberg
  4. None of the above

Ans. B. Anthony Giddens


#Sociological Concepts

#Social Stratification