Do you recognize the guy on the left? His name is Bill Gates and he founded Microsoft which is the largest computer company in the world. Bill Gates has a very high social rank as a result of his wealth, while the factory worker on the right has much lower social status. How did Bill Gates get so rich and does his wealth guarantee him higher social status?
Social order is often closely linked to economics because one's social rank is often dictated by wealth. Every society has a social order that generally places some people in positions of privilege and others with less advantaged status. Those who are socially ranked highest often have the best access to wealth and education while those who maintain lower social rank are often denied access to resources that may help them to increase their social rank. In many cultures it is very difficult to increase your social rank, although some cultures reward hard work and ingenuity with increased social rank. It is also important to recognize that those who are of the lower classes also play vital roles within our society. While the most educated and wealthy people often obtain leadership roles in society, those of lower social rank carry out vital tasks for every society. Can you think of some of the very important jobs that these people fill within our culture?
Key Questions About Social Order
1. What are some factors within a culture that determine a person's social order?
2. If a person is in a lower social class, does that mean that the person is less important to a culture than someone in a higher social class? Why or why not?
3. Why do most societies have a social order? Do you think that it is important for there to be a social order for a culture to function and thrive?
4. Can you think of any cultures, whether in the past or present, that have little to no social order?
5. Is there a social order in the United States? If so, can you explain why some people in this country have a higher social status?