Stratification and its Consequences

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Global stratification can be defined broadly as the existence of a particular social order in a setting that defines the positions of individuals on basis of class, gender, income group or even race. (Newmann 2009). Looking at global stratification from a national point of view; it is quite easy to categorize people into particular groupings based on facts about them. Clear differences exist between the classes. Taking a case study between the rich and the poor, there exists great variations in way of life that range from mode of dressing, schools attended, diet end even the mode of transport. For the rich;

flamboyant clothing, exclusive schools and top of the range family cars.

On the other hand for the poor;

cheap clothing, public schools and mostly use public transport. Globally stratification is evident in every statement made that categorizes nations as either developed or developing.

Stratification, more often than not sets limits for those that are undermined by setting their standards so low that it diminishes their chances of success in their ventures to a great extent. Taking the case of racial stratification whites are considered superior over blacks. Though without any scientific basis to this perception, there are clear differences in their way of life.

Gender stratification refers to the degree to which social and economic resources are awarded to individual s on the basis of their gender. (Carl, 2009). In most societies men are always considered first in allocation of opportunities while women are just options. This contrasts comparative research that shows that women are almost as productive as men in societies that have a gender perspective in their policies. African societies have the most extreme cases of gender stratification where women’s position has always been defined as the household chores. The woman is not viewed as an individual who can contribute to nation building in any way.  Looking at the above cases it is evident that global stratification creates an uneven ground for healthy living where the conditions and opportunities available to a person are not as a result of an individual’s abilities but a product of stratification and nature. Global stratification causes a scenario of extremes; for the extremely rich there are extremely poor and for a society full of opportunities there is always another that is does not have any.

The world systems theory approaches the global setup as an integration of smaller sub-units that operate. It does not focus on social classes as it is not constrained by socio-political boundaries. The World Systems Approach unearths the unequal exchange relationships between geographical regions. (The globalization website). It goes ahead to claim that the world operates as a capitalist system that is not as competitive as it appears to be. The world has two divisions of nations; the core and the periphery. The core is made up of a few nations wielding excess economic and production power. On the other hand the peripheries are the developing nations that have massive labor force and endowed with natural resources. The core nations exploit the labor force and the resources possessed by the periphery nations. There is an unfair balance of trade where the peripheries are oppressed; all the economic policies in the world revolve around the suppression of the peripheries and the uplifting of the core nations.

Fareed Zakaria discredits the world systems theory. He notes that the Core nations have to undergo a change in order to survive in the new era of globalization. To redefine their roles since the sudden rise of nations such as Brazil and China is countering America’s dominance over the global economy, science and culture.(2008).He asserts that America will not be losing its powers but it’s the other countries that will be rising significantly. It explores the enormous possibilities that have arisen as a result of decentralization of the economic powers and an increase in freedom of trade. (Annabelle 2005).

Just as an economic gap exists between the rich and the poor individuals, so does it exist between the rich and the poor nations of the world? Newmann observes that the average per capita yearly income for Western Europe, Canada and Japan is $28000 while in the less developed countries is $5000, almost six times the figure ( 2009).

One of the biggest differences between rich and poor nations is the rich and poor nations are in their populations. Poor countries comprise about 3 billion people, close to half the world’s population. In developed nations women on average have 1.2 children in a lifetime while in developing nations a woman has an average of 5 children. Clearly the developing nations do not have the capacity to cater for these rapidly growing

Populations and consequently there is a very high death rate and low life expectancy. Quality of life is low and also more than half the population does not have a supply of safe drinking water. Among the developing countries there is high dependency on the developed countries, a lack of self belief in the nation that they can empower themselves economically without aid and a reluctance to take up opportunities. This is followed by a general hopelessness among the citizens which leads to crimes and vices. It is worth noting that globally, the nations with the highest crime rates are the most underdeveloped and that among the developing nations the rate of crime is higher within the nations that are most internally stratified.  According to Wes

Globalization means different things to different people. However, most    commentators would identify two fundamental elements: An ever accelerating pace of international economic integration combined with rapid population       growth and improved education levels in developing countries.

Globalization seems to reduce the divide that has been caused by years of stratification. This will eventually lead to a situation of relative equality amongst nations. In developing nations; “Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) have clearly benefited from globalization-the most positive effects being on growth, capacity utilization and continuity”. (OECD. 1997). This has been occasioned by the opening up of markets, renewed trade policies and better international relations across the globe.

“The labor market is one of the channels through which globalization can affect developing countries. Increased import penetration, export sales, competition in services, foreign direct investment and exchange rate fluctuations prompted by international capital movements could all in principle, have an impact and labor earnings. A common concern is that ‘cheap labor’ and a ‘race to the bottom’ may be the flipside of globalization.” (Rama 2003). In his work he further asserts that it is imperative for countries to lift any existing trade barriers, to minimize the numbers of persons employed by the state as well as discourage or do away with enterprises that monopolize their activities in order to be on the competitive edge. He further adds that if countries privatized the firms owned by the state, they would be better placed with other countries in terms of competition. The fact that nature has distributed resources irregularly across the globe poses a challenge for humanity. This challenge is far much greater when it comes to the poor countries. As is common knowledge, adversity is the main cause of conflict and therefore in conditions of little or total absence of a needed resource conflicts are bound to arise. Unequal distribution of resources and population pressure common poor nations triggers competition for scarce resources. These are mostly land and water. This fierce competition leads to social breakdown as individuals compete for the best and continued use of the resource leads to its depletion. Deepened poverty is always a cause of conflict due to desperation especially due to food insecurity. needs. A hungry man is an angry man. (FAO, 2002)

Gender roles are a product of socialization and culture and are in no way a reflection of person’s capacities. There are societal expectations of what a person can or can not do baser on one’s gender. All world over the women are not expected to be vocal on issues and only partake in less critical issues. They are mainly relegated to the menial jobs. In the workplace women mostly work as secretaries. It is often hard for a woman to rise to senior administrative positions. The gender wage gap is sufficient evidence that the number of working women is significantly smaller than that of the working men. The salary scales differences also point to that even the few working women occupy very junior positions in institutions.

The society views the roles of men and women in various settings in a gendered lens. This way it has pre-conceived expectations. For a woman in the family is supposed to be involved in all activities and oversee that children and husband are well taken care of. She should be subjective and reserve her opinions. The man plays a peripheral role of providing and decision making, period. Women are not for politics, this is the notion held allover the world and no wonder when a woman takes a high elective position, everyone is surprised. Clearly attending a women’s college opens up the reality that one is not limited by gender and the possibilities are endless if one takes up the challenge.