BP: 9 Social Stratification

A meritocracy is an unattainable ideal coined from “the belief that social stratification is the result of personal effort — or merit — that determines social standing” (Openstax, 2016, Section 9.1). No society has ever achieved this perfect balance of“work hard and you will get what you deserve.” Therefore, no society, and certainly not the United States, can be considered meritocratic.

It isn’t wrong to say that the US was built with the idea of meritocracy at its forefront; however, our nation has strayed far from this ideal system since then. The truth of the matter is that the privileged do better than the unprivileged in this nation. Someone born to rich parents who had the money and time to spend on advancing their children’s education and other talents, on average, do better than kids born to middle class or low-income families. There are outliers of-course, such as the famed Oprah Winfrey born to a teenage, single-mother, who against all odds rose to fame and prestige, but these cases are few and and far between. More often than not, you see success granted to those born into it. For instance, there is no denying that Bill Gates has achieved great things, but would he have done so well if he hadn’t been born to a prominent lawyer as a father? Probably not, unless he was a rare outlier like Oprah. In most cases, success is passed down, not gained in this nation. Privilege is handed to the priveleged, not the other way around, and meritocratic system is a far-away goal unattainable by most societies, including the US.

The Davis-Moore Theory states that “the greater the functional importance of a social role, the greater must be the reward” (Openstax, 2016, Section 9.4). For instance, a doctor requires far more schooling and training than a cashier at a clothes store, and therefore, deserves higher pay and benefits based on their higher skill. Similarly, Mosca declares that “leadership requires inequalities in power” and that “no society exists unless it is organized”(Module 9, section 5). They both agree that certain individuals deserve higher standing based on merit and talent. I agree more with the Davis-Moore Theory however, because while it is true that those who perform tougher, higher skilled jobs deserve higher reward, that does not always mean that society will be organized or that leadership will develop from this. In-fact, most often inequalities lead to more conflict. Regardless, both theories represent a basis of truth in our society.

Mosca’s third facet states that “because human nature is self-centered people in power will use their position to seize greater rewards for themselves” (Module 9, section 5). I agree, humans are self-centered by nature. Greed and rivalry has shaped and guided human evolution since early times. This is not to say that people are inherently bad or evil, its just that we must fight our natural human nature to create a better more ideal world. Other characteristics, like honor, kindness, and respect have also shaped human aspects, and because of that, humans have the choice to ignore this natural selfish tendency, and choose to be accepting and kind instead.