Define social stratification. Identify and discuss the three systems of social stratification addressed in the textbook.
Social stratification is the practice of dividing groups of people (not individuals) into layers according to their wealth, prestige and power. Gender is also stratifying.
Slavery, caste and class are the three systems of social stratification discussed in the text.
Slavery is a system in which one group of people is "owned" by another. Doing work, not to be paid, but because they must or they will be physically reprimanded or killed. Historically, slavery was not based solely on race (as was the case in America). People were enslaved for nonpayment of debt, to avoid execution for crimes or as "spoils of war" for the conquering nation. Women were the first people enslaved by warfare as the men of conquered nations were usually killed. The women were raped and enslaved. (173)
The conditions of slavery varied depending on the culture. In some groups slavery was temporary, while in others there was no escape except for death. In Mexico, children of slaves were free while in America they became the property of their parents' owners.
The most interesting passage in this for me was that racism didn't lead to slavery, but rather slavery led to racism. It makes sense that to reconcile your treatment of another person as property you would have to dehumanize them in your own mind. (Much like we view animals in different contexts, horrified at the thought of some cultures eating dogs, but seeing pigs who share the same level of intelligence as nothing more than bacon.)