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Social Stratification and Inequalities

Module Details for SOU33041 Social Stratification and Inequalities (Part 1 MT)

Module Code


Module Name

Social Stratification and Inequalities

ECTS weighting


Semester/term taught

Michaelmas Term

Learning Outcomes

Students successfully completing this module will be able to

  • Compare and contrast the different theories of stratification and the measures that are derived from these;
  • Describe social inequalities in Irish society and be able to compare these with the situation in other advanced industrial societies;
  • Critically discuss and evaluate the evidence for theories of the causes of social inequality;
  • Identify and discuss the policy implication of research findings in inequality research.

Module Content

All societies from the smallest hunter-gather bands to the largest industrial societies have patterns of stratification and inequality, i.e. structured differences in economic resources, power and prestige which are relatively enduring and often reproduced between generations. What’s interesting from a sociological perspective is that the structure and pattern of these inequalities varies between societies and over time in the same society which suggests that the fundamental processes driving inequality and stratification are social and economic processes as opposed to a consequence of biology or environment. This module explores how sociologists conceptualize and then measure social stratification and inequalities in industrial societies and the relationship between stratification and individual and group identity. A key concern is the relationship between social stratification and collective action, i.e. when do individuals and groups come together to change their circumstances through social, economic and political behaviour?

Recommended Reading List

  • Students will be expected to have read the article or book chapter listed under ‘required reading’ and are strongly urged to read the other literature listed under ‘suggested readings’. Obviously, the list of recommended readings is not comprehensive and you are free, indeed encouraged, to read beyond the reading list.
  • All of the main readings for this module are provided as PDF documents on Blackboard. However, there are several books that provide accounts of the issues in the first half of this module:

    • Crompton, R. (2008) Class and Stratification, Polity Press, Cambridge.

    Rosemary Crompton wrote a number of books on various issues around social stratification but this volume from 2008 provides an excellent account of many of the central problems and debates. There are ten copies of the book available in the library of varying editions but if you chose to purchase the book it would be a good investment.

Assessment Details

This module is assessed by a three-hour end-of-term exam (100%).