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Social stratification is the way a society ranks and respects different classes. Depending on the culture, this can mean how much respect someone will get, the opportunities they will receive, and daily treatment obtained or it can mean absolutely nothing. Some cultures (like America’s) main platform is a very strong belief in strict social stratification, this is called a closed social stratification system. While other cultures (like Japan) rely on togetherness and not classism as a gauge for respect and power. In Egypt as the years have passed their stratification system has opened tremendously (Schneider 226), especially when compared to America’s.
The way that I have taught myself social stratification is by remembering their are two parts: how easy or difficult success can come to an individual, and how much respect will be earned when you become successful. In Egypt’s past it was only possible for the youth to be successful if their parents were wealthy or landowners (Schneider 226). Understandably but unfortunately, that’s how it usually works. Although it wasn’t frowned upon for someone who wasn’t born into wealth to aspire to be successful and plentiful in their wealth (fiscal or mental(education)), it just simply wasn’t feasible. After the revolution in 1952, opportunities arose and the playing field became much more equal. Not long after that in 2011 the youth stood up for themselves and a change and have revolutionized Egypt more than they ever imagined (Schneider 231). Although it caused trouble during and a short period of time after, the revolution was successful and the military handled it better than any other in the Middle East (Schneider 234). Opportunities may be shrinking because of the large population (Schneider 227), but Egyptians are not biased to whomever defeats the odds. In Egypt, since the opportunity is unbiased – so is the respect you gain if you decide to be successful and prosper in your lifetime. Although the wealthy do boast more than the middle and lower class, (Schneider 220) it is common knowledge that it’s very possible for someone who is born into the middle or lower class could work themselves up to the upper class.
In America, our social stratification could be seen as extremely closed or extremely open. We give everyone the opportunity to be successful but we also heavily lean on classism. The way I see it, no one wants to respect, help, or support an individual that is working extremely hard to achieve his or her goals, but when he or she finally does it seems like those same people that were doubting, want to celebrate alongside of them. It could be argued that I see things that way because I am in high school and that’s just how teenagers act, however I truly believe that that’s how it is in the business world, too. How many banks want to give a young entrepreneur a business loan to open up a operation they’ve dreamed of, planned out, and set their heart on for years? Probably not many, now that’s not blaming the bank at all; it’s totally logistical that banks don’t want to give their money to unreliable and unrealistic young people. However, it can hinder someone from following their dreams. How many family members would help you out if that was the case? Would you want a business partner? Do you sincerely think that someone would risk their financial state for your dreams? If so, that’s great – but I am confident when saying that I don’t know of many people that would do that for me. However, I know a few that would attempt to contact me after I have made a name for myself, owned a stable business and was successful. Although this is just a scenario, it accurately depicts social stratification in America. Not many respect you until you’re successful alongside of them.
Education is a huge and important similarity between Egypt and America, contrasting with the poor agriculturists in Egypt – while in America agriculturists are usually well off financially. In Egypt, education is a way to escape poverty and being average (Schneider 227), that remains true for Americans. Although a family may not have the money to send their child(ren) to receive a higher education, with all of the scholarships, grants, and work studies offered today; it may be difficult but it is not impossible to pursue college, graduate school, etc. if you or your family isn’t well off. A college degree can help an individual out immensely when job hunting. It can increase your pay and allow you to be a priority when selecting employees competing for a job or career. In Egypt, agriculturists are usually poor (Schneider 225) however in America it’s quite the opposite. Although farmers went through the “poor farmer” stereotype for the past 50 years (and sometimes still do), even after a mediocre year we aren’t that bad off. Farmers in America aren’t typically appreciated by citizens, however we are by our buyers and that’s what pays the bills. In Egypt they aren’t appreciated by the citizens or buyers. I hope that American government continues to see how important agriculturists are and that they should be awarded fiscally and with respect.
Egypt has been very interesting to learn about, although it can be contradicting and a bit confusing; I respect the changes their people have demanded. More than anything, I respect their military for not being labeled as firing on civilians during the time of the revolution. Egypt’s business, entrepreneur and high class opportunities may be shrinking, but they do not turn their nose up at anyone, while typical American society would. Egyptian and American culture share the opportunity the education enables but differs in the typical financial state their agriculturists were in. When I was younger I remember seeing Egypt all over the Nightly News, I am so glad I had the privilege to learn about what happened with a much more politically intelligent mind and heart.
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