Sociological thought. Collection of scientific articles

Sociological thought. Collection of scientific articles,  audiobook. ISDN68973699

Andrey Tikhomirov

Genre:other educational literature



Publisher:Izdatelskie resheniya

Publication date:16.03.2023


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Sociological thought. Collection of scientific articles
Andrey Tikhomirov
Sociological thought plays a huge role in the development of society. Sociology considers the issues of population development generically, seeking to identify trends in the future development of the country.

Sociological thought

Collection of scientific articles

Editor-compiler Andrey Tikhomirov

ISBN 978-5-0059-7567-6

Created with Ridero smart publishing system

The concept of social stratification in sociological science
Relationships between people are complex and multifaceted. Among the diversity of these relations, we will single out those that develop between relatively stable social communities, groups.

Each person belongs to one or another social community, and in turn each of them occupies a certain place in the social structure of society. What is meant by social community and social structure?

A social structure is a set of interconnected and interacting social communities and relations between them. A social community is understood as a really existing set of people characterized by any single signs related to the life of society. It can include several people and tens of millions of people, it can be short-lived (for example, passengers on a bus, spectators in a theater) or stable over centuries (for example, nations, classes). This chapter will focus on large stable social communities: socio-class (classes, social groups and strata), socio-demographic (youth, women, the elderly), socio-ethnic (nations, nationalities).

The evolution of mankind is accompanied by the accumulation of such changes in the social structure of society, which eventually lead to qualitative shifts, the emergence of new social communities, to change or replace the old ones.

In the process of development of society, the social structure becomes more diverse and complex. This increasing complexity is due to objective reasons and provides the society with stability and the possibility of further

To determine changes in the social structure of society, scientists have developed many guidelines and approaches. The theory of classes and the theory of social stratification are the most famous. Stratification (Latin; stratum – flooring, layer; facere-to do) – the division of society into layers – strata.

Social changes are ongoing. Thus, over the past decades, the social status of about half of the people who received the highest and lowest incomes has changed significantly. The definition of class belonging of people based on the level of income and their relation to ownership of the means of production (and, consequently, its products) no longer clearly reflects the alignment of social forces in the structure of modern society.

When studying the dynamics of social change, proponents of the theory of stratification often use the formula of vertical and horizontal stratification, because, in their opinion, a person in his life can move (climb or descend) from one social level to another. Or, staying at the same level, move from one social group to another.

Consider the possible movement of a person in a vertical stratification having seven levels: 1) the upper stratum of professionals, administrators; 2) middle-level technical specialists; 3) the commercial class; 4) the petty bourgeoisie;

5) technicians and workers performing managerial functions;

6) skilled workers; 7) unskilled workers. For example, a person from a family of a skilled worker, having received sufficient funds from his father, bought a cafe, i.e. he rose up the vertical stratification into the layer of the petty bourgeoisie. Later, at the expense of profits and proceeds from the sale of cafes, he acquired an average farm and thus moved from the social group of the urban bourgeoisie to the rural one. But the same person could not get the opportunity for social displacement and remain in the social group to which his father belonged.

Currently, the social structure of civil society cannot be determined by any one attribute, for this it is necessary to use their totality.

For example, people who work for hire in a modern capitalist society already have something to «lose, except their chains.» They are increasingly becoming owners: they have houses, land plots, shares, insurance policies, their own vehicles, home electronics, which have given them access to a variety of information, to world culture. Citizens gain independence, become full legal entities.

Of particular importance for the approval of the social positions of each person is the increase in the economic independence of his family. In fact, the position of the family is a barometer of the state of society, its economic and social systems. In this small social group, the contradictions of the individual and the social that arise in the process of development are most clearly and quickly manifested. The state of the family shows the degree of progress of society towards providing its citizens with real opportunities for socio-cultural development.

The family carries a great creative charge. In an effort to ensure their families’ well-being, people are actively involved in the evolutionary processes of social development. In addition, the economic independence of the family supports the process of personal emancipation, which by the end of the XX century became one of the main factors of socio-political changes.

Nowadays, economic freedom of a person is inextricably linked with political and civil freedom. People got the opportunity to go through the social hierarchy from peasant to president in one lifetime.

In the developed countries of the West, wage labor and individual work are a source of livelihood for more than 80% of their entire population. This huge social group includes people of various professions, levels of education, income, etc. At the same time, it should be noted that simultaneously with the increase in the number of employees, the number of the industrial working class is decreasing. The proletariat in its former (classical) form practically does not exist anymore. For the industrial production of modern economically developed countries, the work of workers with higher education has become the norm. And for employees of firms, service sector personnel, a high level of education is almost always the first qualification requirement.

In addition, as already noted, today employees in civil society (in the industrialized countries of the West) make up a well-off part of the population. Now it has become obvious that most of the people who work for hire can be attributed to the middle and affluent strata of society. These people are the main producers and taxpayers, and in fact they are the backbone of the social system as a whole

In modern society, the number of independent peasants (free farmers) continues to decrease, the natives of which, for the most part, join the ranks of wage laborers who sell their labor both in the city and in the countryside. In recent decades, the importance of the intelligentsia in public life has increased markedly. These people who are professionally engaged in highly skilled intellectual work, as a rule, are among the employees and belong to the middle strata of the population, but they occupy a special place in the social structure – the intellectual elite of society is formed from them. Although it is customary to call the elite a social group of the richest people, this concept also applies to people who are of particular value to the whole society (intellectual, spiritual elite).

As a result of the socio-economic development of society, social changes are becoming more and more intensive nowadays, significant social movements are taking place, giving birth to the so-called marginal strata. Their presence is a characteristic feature of modern society.

The concept of marginalization serves to denote borderline (intermediate) in relation to any social communities – class, national, cultural. The main thing in marginality is that the personality loses its belonging to any particular community. This usually happens as a result of the interaction of various social groups. For example, all over the world there are quite large social groups of people without a fixed place of residence, who are interrupted by casual earnings.

A gigantic accelerator of social change is the scientific and technological revolution, which causes profound transformations in the productive forces of society, the relationship of ownership to the means of production. Changes in this area directly lead to social shifts. So, if in the last century the small and large bourgeoisie represented a class almost exclusively consisting of individual owners, at present, as you know, in the developed countries of the West, along with individual private property, joint-stock private property is also developing.

Management of corporations is usually transferred to hired managers – managers who make decisions on capital investments, as well as financial, technical and personnel policies. Senior managers of large American corporations receive 40% of their total income from profits from their share capital. Thus, senior managers are both highly qualified specialists and bourgeois.

This situation, when the holders of shares are representatives of the most diverse segments of the population, including workers, has become typical for industrially developed countries. As a result, the boundaries between classes become less clear, blurred, which allows some Western sociologists to conclude that classes have disappeared. But since the majority of the economically active population lives mainly at the expense of remuneration for work, i.e. wages, or, on the contrary, is exempt from direct participation in the production process and is engaged only in commercial and entrepreneurial activities, then it is too early to talk about the disappearance of the working class and the bourgeoisie.

Changing the place occupied by a person or a group of people in a social structure is called social displacement (otherwise – mobility). For example, a peasant becomes a worker, representatives of the petty bourgeoisie move into the category of the middle or large bourgeoisie, etc. Changes in the social structure are confirmed by sociological research. Thus, among the intelligentsia of the developed countries of the world, the percentage of hereditary intelligentsia is small, the bulk of the current knowledge workers are from other social communities.

Large social movements are caused by the needs of the development of society. Thus, the transition of the mass of peasants to wage labor was historically natural and caused by the industrial stage of development. Objective patterns of changes in the social structure mean that a person’s belonging to a particular social stratum is not eternal. If, for example, your parents are peasants, then this does not mean that you should become a peasant, you can move to the city and study some kind of working profession or, after graduating from college, do mental work, or you can stay in the village to work on your native land.

In the countries of the modern world, the state is actively involved in the regulation of social processes. Not being able to eliminate objective trends in the changing social structure (for example, the movement of the peasantry to other classes, strata of the population), it can slow down or accelerate these processes, ease the situation of some groups of the population and complicate it for others, for which it uses laws, tax policy, other means of redistributing national income. So, our state currently helps the formation of independent peasant farms in the countryside, and in the city – the formation of a layer of entrepreneurs, etc. In developed European countries, in the United States, the state also supports the activities of farming and small enterprises.

State regulation of social relations is built taking into account the general goals of economic and political development of society, at the same time, the prevailing ideas of social justice in society are also taken into account. These ideas have changed in the course of historical development. In modern economically developed countries, the concept of «social justice» is primarily associated with the possibility of obtaining equal pay for equal work and special support for those segments of the population who are still or no longer able to work at full capacity (students, the elderly). The level of social protection of such segments of the population, which has increased in recent years in a number of developed countries, is attributed to general civilizational achievements.

Social justice is reflected in public opinion (the state of mass consciousness), and what the state does to ensure social justice in the life of society is seriously monitored by its citizens.

The word «differentiation» comes from the Latin root meaning difference. Social differentiation is the division of society into groups occupying different social positions. Many researchers believe that social division is characteristic of any society. Even in primitive tribes, groups were distinguished according to gender and age, with their inherent privileges and responsibilities. There was also an influential and respected leader and his entourage, as well as outcasts living «outside the law». At subsequent stages of development, social stratification became more complicated and became more and more obvious.

It is customary to distinguish between economic, political and professional differentiation. Economic differentiation is expressed in the difference in income, standard of living, in the existence of rich, poor and middle strata of the population. The division of society into managers and governed, political leaders and the masses is a manifestation of political differentiation. Professional differentiation can be attributed to the allocation of various groups in society by the nature of their activities, occupations. At the same time, some professions are considered more prestigious in comparison with others.

Thus, clarifying the concept of social differentiation, we can say that it means not just the allocation of any groups, but also a certain inequality between them in terms of their social status, the scope and nature of rights, privileges and responsibilities, prestige and influence.

Can this inequality be eliminated? There are different answers to this question. For example, the Marxist doctrine of society proceeds from the necessity and possibility of eliminating this inequality as the most vivid manifestation of social injustice. To solve this problem, it is necessary first of all to change the system of economic relations, to eliminate private ownership of the means of production. In other theories, social stratification is also regarded as evil, but it cannot be eliminated. People should accept this situation as inevitable.

According to another point of view, inequality is regarded as a positive phenomenon. It makes people strive to improve social relations. Social homogeneity will lead society to ruin. At the same time, many researchers note that in most developed countries there is a decrease in social polarization, the middle strata are increasing and the groups belonging to the extreme social poles are shrinking.

Reflect on the above points of view, try to correlate them with real socio-historical processes.

In their totality, social communities form the social structure of society. Sociologists have long tried to determine the main element of this structure. Many of them considered classes to be such an element. The very concept of «social class» appeared a long time ago. Initially, two classes were identified – the poor and the rich, i.e. only economic differentiation was taken into account. Later there was a division into classes of oppressed and oppressors. The emergence of classes was associated with political violence. In the XVIII century. distributive theory appeared (economist A. Smith, historian F. Gizo), according to which three main classes were distinguished: 1) owners of land (feudal lords) who receive rent; 2) owners of capital (bourgeoisie) who receive profit; 3) workers who have their labor, who receive wages. In the Marxist-Leninist theory, the main feature of the division of society into classes is property relations.

In modern Western sociology, the concept of «class» is also used (for example, there is a middle class, a class of managers).

But the concept of «strata» (Latin stratum – layer) is more universal. The division of society into strata is based on many criteria: income, profession, education, etc.

The social structure of society looks different through the prism of classes and strata. Let’s turn to the examples. The two main classes are the workers and the peasantry, and the social group is the intelligentsia. This was the structure of Soviet society from the standpoint of the Marxist class approach. And here is one of the variants of the social stratification of the Soviet society of the 80s. (the groups were distinguished taking into account the following characteristics: power, income level, prestige, education, lifestyle, consumption standards): the ruling class (0.7% of the employed population); management specialists (about 3.5%); creative intelligentsia (1.8%); skilled knowledge workers (18.8%); non-specialist employees (about 5%); industrial working class (22.3%); workers in various non-industrial and social sectors (19%); service personnel (about 13%); agricultural workers and peasants (15%) and other groups.

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