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Social Stratification and Inequality

Social stratification refers to the structured ranking of members of a society. Usually, this hierarchy mirrors a given society’s distribution of wealth and power, but other characteristics such as gender, age, and ethnicity may be vital, too. Closely linked to social stratification is the notion of social inequality: the classification of people by what they own, what they represent, or how powerful they are, has shown to be persistent for generations. People within the lower ranks of social stratification suffer from fewer opportunities and scarce resources in almost every aspect of social life. This includes access to health care, success in education, participation and representation in politics, career choices, access to higher incomes, and (inheriting) economic wealth.

Social strata affect voting behavior and political participation. ...

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