Social stratification and social class

Offer semester
2nd semester

Lecture time
Wednesday 10:30am - 12:20pm

Lecture venue

Course description

Social stratification refers to the systematic ranking of people in a society based on a combination of group characteristics, with most obvious examples being class, gender, and race. Such a hierarchical ranking reflects unequal access to opportunities, resources, and rewards which are relatively scarce but widely desired in the society, including but not limited to education, income, property, prestige, power, status, and health.

This course will draw on different sociological theories and a variety of empirical studies to provide insight into the system of social stratification and the (re)production of inequalities in the contemporary world.

Although there is no prerequisite for this course, students who have taken introductory Sociology courses will feel more comfortable when dealing with the readings and lecture materials.

Course learning outcomes

  1. understand what stratification is, why it matters, and how it works;
  2. explain and critique basic concepts and theories of class and inequality;
  3. describe and discuss different forms of social inequality in both the local and global contexts, such as social class, gender, race/ethnicity/immigrant status, etc.;
  4. apply the sociological tools covered to make sense of personal life chances and social mobility patterns in Hong Kong.


Attendance and participation20%
Two short essays20%
In-class presentation20%

Required reading

Kerbo, H. R. (2012) Social stratification and inequality: class conflict in historical, comparative, and global perspective. 8th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Recommended reading

Grusky, D. B. & Weisshaar, K. R. (2014) Social stratification: class, race, and gender in sociological perspective. 4th ed. New York, NY: Routledge.


Course co-ordinator and teachers

Student view

This course is prefect if you want to know more about how and why poverty and inequality is formed in Hong Kong, or whether the social mobility of young people in Hong Kong today can be compared to that in the past.

– Richard Kwok, 4th year BEcon&Fin undergraduate student