All societies in the world are socially stratified meaning wealth, power, and honor are unequally distributed among different groups. In other words all communities are separated into different social classes. The most frequently used basis for categorizing different forms of stratification systems is the way status is acquired.
In sociology social roles are expectations for the ways in which people are expected to behave in specific situations. These expectations are created and defined by the societies in which the people live. Different societies have dissimilar social roles. Role expectations include both actions and qualities. For example, a teacher may be expected not only to deliver lectures, assign homework, and prepare examinations but also to be dedicated, concerned, and responsible.
We cannot talk about social role without explaining social status. According to sociologists, social status is the honor or prestige attached to one’s position in society. It may also refer to a rank or position that one holds in a group. For example, we are all students in this class and each one of us is either a son or daughter of somebody. The position or rank of a person or group within the society can be determined in two ways. A person can earn their social status by their own achievements also known as achieved or attained status. Alternatively, a person can be placed in the position. This inherited position is known as ascribed status meaning they are predefined for an individual at birth. For example prince William of England will have many high expectations compare to any poor child born in England.
In modern societies like ours, occupation or job is usually thought of as the main determinant of status. Other factors such as ethnic group, religion, gender, voluntary associations and hobby can have an influence also. This achieved status is when people are placed on the stratification structure based on their individual merits; the most commonly used here in America is education. The amount and kind of education people attain determine the kinds of jobs they get. The kind of work people do is the main determinant of their income. Therefore, one’s place within the stratification structure is determined by financial, academic or political success. The higher a person is in rank, the better off he is. Moreover, the education, occupation, and income of parents largely determine the kinds of advantages or disadvantages they create for their own children. These situations are the roots of social inequality we observe in every society. Based on that observation, the gap can only grow deeper and deeper with time. For example Blacks are substantially less well educated than Whites just because the parents of blacks are poorly educated themselves. The sharp difference between blacks and whites is the continuing legacy of slavery. For centuries whites could educate themselves, passing that huge advantage to their children while it was forbidden for blacks to get any kind of education.
In the United States of America, there is no difference in the opportunity given to both girls and boys to have access to education. After graduation comes the reality of the work world. In fact, according to Donald J. Treiman, a sociologist, at equal levels of education, women earn about 60 percent of what men earn. This is explained by the gender preference for men over women that prevails in the work place. Women’s potential seems to be undermined by their so called women to-do task. In fact, the work lives for many women are interrupted for childbearing. Consequently many corporations want to avoid the stress of training and hiring somebody else for her job to replace women whenever they have to be put on leave. Moreover when it comes to gender in American society, women and men are assigned predetermined cultural roles. Women assume the roles of mothers, housekeepers, and servants to their husbands and kids, while men are providers, protectors, and heads of the household. More and more, we see a change in society today regarding the gender roles. Indeed, in modern homes, husbands and wives work both outside of the house. Both are providers for their family and both do the housekeeping job for the well being of the all family.
Treiman, Donald J. “Status Attainment.” Encyclopedia of Sociology. 2nd ed. Vol. 5. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2001. 3042-3049. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 13 Feb. 2013