Problems of Social Structure and Differentiation

SECTION II. Problems of Social Structure and Differentiation

Observation: Some entertainers, athletes, even prostitutes are better rewarded by society than teachers doctors, judges, farmers

  • Are entertainers, athletes, and prostitutes more important to society than teachers, doctors, judges, farmers? [Read the questions raised by M Tumin to points raised by Moore-Davis thesis]

      Kingsley Davis’s and Wilbert Moore’s “Some Principles of Stratification” argues that inequality is a functional necessity to societies. That society rewards positions proportionally based on importance, and based on inherent ability or extensive training/sacrifices needed. Hence, for valuable positions to be filled by qualified persons, we distribute rewards unequally resulting to social stratification.

The ideas by Davis and Moore explain the existence of social inequality, but Melvin Tumin counter their arguments point by point through his “Some Principles of Stratification: A Critical Analysis.”

First, Tumin refutes Davis’s and Moore’s idea that certain positions are functionally more important than others by raising the question that we have no way of determining which positions are more important.

In relation to the question, in this first point, I agree with Davis’ and Moore’s argument. I concur that certain positions are functionally more important than others. The modifier functionally must be underscored here. It can be the point of reference for the lacking measurement that Tumin mentioned. The importance of any position in society can be gradated through functionality, which can be deduced to either being a need or a want.  Even need and want concepts can be scaled, like from extremely needed to simply needed. “Can society exist without such position?” is, I believe, the most important question to consider when it comes to functionality. With the two groups of sample positions identified in the question, the first group composed of entertainers, athletes, and prostitutes fall under the affirmative answer.  At its most basic existence, society can live and continue to exist without them. They come after the basic needs are met. But, society cannot do without the second group of sample positions composed of the teachers, doctors, judges and most specially, the farmers. The farmers produce food, a basic need that must first be addressed and satisfied.  Doctors take care of health matters, another basic need after food that relates to basic living. Judges uphold peace and order in society, a need for harmonious coexistence. Teachers enlighten and guide people’s reasoning, actions, and how to improve life.

Practically, when it comes to functionality, there is a leveling off of various positions in society, or what we call in Sociology as status. The enumerated positions in the question are all achieved statuses implying that everyone in these positions has exerted considerable efforts (or training according to Davis and Moore) to become what they have become. Society has the so-called social norms, values, and social ideology from which people can determine whether a position is more functional than others.

Second, Davis and Moore claim that “Only a limited number of individuals in any society have the talents that can be trained into the skills appropriate to these positions,” to which Tumin argues that there are structural stratification systems that make it appear that only a limited number of individuals can obtain these skills. Scarcity is not because of “inherent ability,” as proposed by Davis and Moore, but rather because of other factors (i.e. lack of money to go to medical school) or the fact that power elite groups limit opportunities for people who are not in their group (i.e. a young teacher can’t find a job because tenured teachers already fill the vacancies.)

Again, in this point, I agree with Davis and Moore’s claim regarding limited number of individuals with inherent ability. Individuality stems from the fact that no two people are alike. We cannot just be who we want to be simply because we do not have the ability or we lack the necessary faculty to engage at something. And this is not even about lack of money as what Tumin argues. There is the phenomenon called opportunity for the really talented and gifted.  There are scholarships from various entities available for those who really have the calling for and the ability to go through the required training to be so.

Third, the fact that we reward positions based on perceived sacrifices seems faulty to Tumin. He claims that sacrifices are more subjective and that going to medical school, for example, may not be perceived as a sacrifice to everyone.

For the third time, I concur with Davis and Moore’s idea on rewards accorded to positions. Although I agree with Tumin that sacrifice is subjective, still, having to go through a rationalized training to achieve a certain position is a sacrifice that not everyone can or want to undergo.  Hence, individuals who dare to go through the prescribed training (sacrifices) for a desired position either driven by personal or familial ambition, pride, and the like, definitely deserve the appropriate reward for such position. We may think that performing on stage is just like a paid hobby, and not much sacrifice. But entertainer Sarah Geronimo, for instance, admitted to not having eaten ice cream since.  Her parents prohibited her from doing so to protect her singing voice. She also does not eat kinilaw (raw fish) since it is soaked with suka (vinegar), which is not good for the vocal chords.

In a capitalistic society, rewarding a position could also be because the position generates income, and not because of its importance. While the teacher is more important than the entertainer, the latter generates income. There is differential rewarding to these two positions.  The teacher has stable, consistent income while the entertainer with unstable income and by contract has higher earning. But only a few exceptional entertainers earn more (or scarcity of talent).

  • Point out similarities between caste system and the Philippine social stratification

In an academic scene, the Indian Caste System is usually cited as an example during discussions of social stratification within a social science class. It is usually differentiated from the Class systems in other countries, like the United States and the Philippines.  Both systems – class and caste – are different from each other.

However, now that it is asked, there is a realization that the Philippine classes are very similar to that of India’s power pyramid. In the Philippines, people are categorized into social groupings that influence how we function as individuals. There are notable similarities in the Philippine social stratification and the Indian caste system.

Both systems impact politics, albeit the Philippines has no legitimate royalty. However, the Philippines has a small percentage of people holding a disproportionate amount of wealth – also referred to as the 1%.  We have political offices headed by family members of former politicians (like Mar Roxas, Kiko Pangilinan) or officially receding presidential candidates like Bro. Eddie Villanueva whose son Joel Villanueva heads TESDA. Political clans or families reign around the country. Every province is like a family’s mini-republic. In national sphere, we have the Estrada family, the Arroyos, the Aquinos.  In the provinces, we have the Barbers in Surigao, the Amantes in Agusan, the Dimaporos in Lanao del Norte. They each have had numerous family members in a public office.

Royalty is manifested in Indian culture and politics. India’s royalty possess privileges in society that are not enjoyed by other castes. If we were to compare Philippine social stratification directly to Indian castes, we can see that to some degree we have a similar categorization of our society. On the top of the Indian pyramid are the priestly class. The Philippine equivalents are the extremely wealthy Filipinos that are in power. “The upper 1 percent of Filipinos takes in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent.” It’s clear that political reign and wealth influence the class Stratification of Filipinos. In addition, those mentioned on the Forbes list were born into their wealth (ascribed status); similar to how Indian Hindus are born into their caste.

The next level down in Indian society is the warrior caste. The Philippine equivalent of this is our Philippine military. While veterans are treated unfairly, those who are currently serving are put on a pedestal. In addition, after retirement, retiree officials are more likely to become politicians than those of us who haven’t served. This is most likely due to a heightened sense of patriotism.

The Vaishyas – merchants and landowners – are the third most liberated caste. This is the equivalent of the Philippine middle class. Despite the difference in proportion, they hold about the same amount of power. They are both groups of people whose majority own property and have a significant amount of political power in comparison to their lower-class counterparts. Politicians are always trying to appeal to the Philippine’s middle class because they make up a large portion of the population and without their vote; it would be difficult to win an election. In India, the Vaishyas dominate a large part of Indian commerce. These people are entrepreneurs, business people, and help to strengthen the Indian economy – just like the Philippine middle class.

The Sudra caste is easily comparable to the Philippine working class. This is because the Sudra caste is made up of laborers and farmers. They tend to live in extreme areas of population, either in rural, thinly populated farming villages or in densely populated urban areas. Similarly, the Philippine working class tends to live in rural areas as well as inner-city areas. They do jobs that are perceived as “dirty” or undesirable, often with low wages and few benefits. These benefits and social programs are also frequently threatened by politicians. Just as the working class in the Philippines has a difficult time scraping by and constantly have politicians threatening.  Helpful social programs that may allow them to move up in our class system, Sudras in the Indian caste system are frequently denied rights that the upper three castes have access to.”

The most remarkable comparison is that between the Untouchables of India and the homeless population of the Philippines. Though Philippines has more social programs to help the homeless, they are becoming increasingly perceived as inhuman or deserving of their poverty. Philippine politicians are increasingly making it harder for these people to get back on their feet.

For years now, hundreds of thousands of people in dire straits – mentally or physically disabled, homeless and unemployed, ineligible for social welfare, disability, or food subsidies – could generally count on state or local government largesse for modest handouts of cash to help scrape by. Under the rubric of ‘4Ps,’ these down-and-out Filipinos received modest allowances – often no more than a few hundred pesos a month – to help defray the cost of necessities including food, clothing, milk, mobile phone load and public utility vehicle fares.

All in all, the Philippine stratification system is more like India’s caste system. For each Indian caste, there is a demographic of Filipinos suffering the same types of oppression or heightened power. Heredity, division, and even the attitudes of citizens belonging to these divisions are more similar than they are different – the only major difference being that the Philippines has no legitimate royalty.

  • What is feminization of poverty? Is it true in the Philippines? How are they manifested?

Based on my observation, feminization of poverty is a process of situating women in a state of lack and deprivation of the basic needs (of food, shelter and clothing) in order for them to live life decently in society. When it comes to poverty, women are prone to it, the usual vulnerable sector in society. There is differential giving of opportunities and rewards to women compared to men.

According to the Unite Nations,

“the majority of the 1.5 billion people living on 1 dollar a day or less are women. In addition, the gap between women and men caught in the cycle of poverty has continued to widen in the past decade, a phenomenon commonly referred to as “the feminization of poverty”. Worldwide, women earn on average slightly more than 50 per cent of what men earn” (UN 2000).
Considering the UN statement on feminization of poverty above, this phenomenon is definitely present and true in the Philippines as it is worldwide. In fact, many live in less than a dollar a day. In a documentary film entitled Kalam by Sandra Aguinaldo of GMA Channel, though there is a husband, but it is the mother of 10 children who struggled more on a daily basis in looking for means to be able to buy rice for a family meal without viand. Children go to school without eating breakfast and without baon as well.  They end up with stomach ache while in school, so they had to go home, only to find nothing inside the caldron to eat.

This phenomenon of feminization of poverty is supported by the data of the study on Female-Headed Households and Income Differences in a Post-Calamity Condition (Sealza 2015), wherein the women do not have regular employment and have to rely on intermittent work opportunities in the neighborhood.

REFERENCES:

Aguinaldo, Sandra. 2011. Kalam: Sa Piling ng Wala.  I Witness Documentary.  GMA Channel.

Davis, Kingsley. August 1953. Some Principles of Stratification: A Critical Analysis: Reply. American Sociological Review, 18 (4): 394-397. Retrieved on 17 July 2015 from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2087552? seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Sealza, Isaias. 2015. Female-headed Households and Income Differences in a Post-Calamity Condition. Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2014. Hindu Social Class. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved on 17 July 2015 from http://www.britannica.com/topic/untouchable

United Nation. DPI/2035/A—May 2000.  Retrieved on 17 July 2015 from the United Nations Department of Public Information Website: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/followup/session/presskit/fs1.htm

note: this paper was submitted to Dr. Isaias Sealza, Dean of Graduate School, Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines for the Subject Socio 400.1 (Social Structure)

Posted on September 1, 2015, in Society Matters and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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