The concept of social stratification is interpreted differently by the various theoretical perspectives of sociology. Proponents of action theory have suggested that since social stratification is commonly found in developed societies, hierarchy may be necessary in order to stabilize social structure. Talcott Parsons, an American sociologist, asserted that stability and social order are regulated, in part, by universal value although universal values were not identical with "consensus" but could as well be the impetus for ardent conflict as it had been multiple times through history. Parsons never claimed that universal values in and by themselves "satisfied" the functional prerequisites of a society, indeed, the constitution of society was a much more complicated codification of emerging historical factors. The so-called conflict theories, such as Marxism, point to the inaccessibility of resources and lack of social mobility found in stratified societies. Many sociological theorists have criticized the extent to which the working classes are unlikely to advance socioeconomically; the wealthy tend to hold political power which they use to exploit the proletariat intergenerationally. Theorists such as Ralf Dahrendorf, however, have noted the tendency toward an enlarged middle-class in modern Western societies due to the necessity of an educated workforce in technological and service economies. Various social and political perspectives concerning globalization, such as dependency theory, suggest that these effects are due to the change of workers to the third world.


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