Discussion Questions

  1. How do you envision social stratification based on social class in the United States? Like many, you might think of a ladder that people can choose to climb up and/or fall down, given their own action or inaction. What accounts for one’s location on the social stratification “ladder” in the United States? What accounts for the frequency and variety of barriers one encounters on this social class journey?

  2. How is the perpetuation of the growing wealth/poverty gap in the United States a systemic issue weaved into our social fabric and maintained through hegemonic ideologies? Explain why and in what ways wealth and poverty are caused by laws, policies, and social structure, rather than by individual traits, such as hard work.

  3. Which theory do you think is more applicable to explaining social stratification in the United States today: (1) Simmel’s concept of trickle-down fashion or (2) Veblen’s theory of conspicuous consumption? Why?