Professor Marshall

LESSON 10: Stratification: United States and Worldwide

Lesson 10

Target Competencies (Outcomes)

Define terms essential to the study of social inequality locally, nationally and globally

Categorize different types of poverty

Explain the importance of studying systems of stratification to identify worldwide inequalities

You will demonstrate your competence by:

Completing the learning activities in this Learning Plan

Your performance will be successful when:

You can compare and contrast open and closed systems of stratification

You can explain the myth of meritocracy as an ideal type

You can map the class structure of the United States

You can describe types of social mobility

You can classify the characteristics of social classes in the United States

You can explain the benefits and drawbacks of different world economies

You can apply different sociological theories which pertain to local, national and global stratification

You can explain the cyclical impacts of poverty

Learning Activities

1. If you have not yet done so, READ Chapters 9 and 10 of your text.

3. COMPLETE the lesson below.

What Exactly is Stratification?

We can think of social stratification as the ways in which society ranks us based on objective criteria (such as income, wealth, age, gender, etc.). Where we rank in the social class system has much to do with our access to the resources that society makes available to us. Those resources can be viewed as rewards that are received based on the groups we belong to. For sociologists, some of the primary objective measurements of stratification in American society today are the rewards of wealth, power and prestige. These categories are reliant on the work of Karl Marx and Max Weber.

Marx specifically concentrated his work on the idea of class differences. He would assert that class differences are rooted in our system of economics (capitalism) and that you are not likely to move based on your abilities--rather that you are likely to move based on your relationship to property. It is important to think of the work of Marx in a historical and contextual way. He basically saw a two-class structure, which was made up of the "haves" and the "have-nots." The "haves" had great ability to influence their place in society as they had control over the "have-nots" and they owned property. The "have-nots" had little power to control their lives, and their well-being was dependent upon their value as workers to the owners of businesses. Marx felt very strongly that the working class (the proletariat) lived in a state of false consciousness, which leads to their alienation.

Using the work of Marx, we can see that movement is based on where you start on the socio-economic ladder. Today, in the US, we generally recognize a five-class system:

  • Upper Class - comprised of about 1% of the population of the US; high levels of power, prestige and wealth
  • Upper Middle Class - comprised of about 15% of our population in the US; high prestige due to occupation/educational achievement
  • Middle Class - comprised of about 34% of the population of the US; HOUSEHOLD incomes of about 40K to 80K per year; moderate levels of prestige
  • Working Class - about 30% of the US population; high school education and lower; little job opportunity for advancement; low wealth, prestige and power
  • Lower Class - about 20% of the population in the US; living paycheck-to-paycheck with no real opportunities to advance; no prestige, wealth or power

We do need to make some clarification here: you, as a college student, may be part of the lower class right now. But, because you are earning an education, this is probably a transitional category for you. There are many American families that are in this category with no light at the end of the tunnel. While you may struggle throughout your college years, for these families, the struggle is ongoing.

What Marx asserted is that you have little chance of changing the category you are born in during your lifetime. Marx saw the system as being designed to keep people in their place—whether that place was the upper class or the lower class. What this means is that social class standing is ascribed, or fixed at birth. Now, we have to understand this idea contextually and historically. Recall that Marx lived at a time of great social change. The West was changing from a feudal system to a capitalist system. Most people viewed this change as positive. Even Marx saw the necessity of changing from a feudal system to something else--in that respect, capitalism was a necessary move foward for society. Marx however saw capitalism as a "necessary evil," a temporary state on our way to what he saw as a more egalitarian and just system. Of course, things didn't work out as Marx had hoped, but that's a "whole 'nother story."

Today, we know that class is more than what Marx asserted--social classes are replicated by those who live IN the social classes.

The Meritocracy Argument

Sociologist Peggy McIntosh is an anti–racism activist from the Wellesley Centers for Women near Boston. She theorizes that White people are raised on five cultural myths and that these myths make us feel good about ourselves and generally allow us to override and discredit any counter–evidence:

  • Meritocracy: Meritocracy is the notion that every individual is responsible for his or her own destiny and that the ability to move up the social ladder is not influenced by society or circumstance. Thinking that we live in a meritocracy allows denial of any current systems of oppression or privilege as well as denial of history.
  • Manifest destiny: the belief that  God gave White people the land that formed the United States, which allows Whites to deny that we live on land taken from indigenous people whose culture and existence White people sought to destroy.
  • White "racelessness:" Thinking that being White is "normal" and that being White sets the standard for what it means to be human; thinking that non–Whites have "race," (and Whites do not have "race") which causes problems for all of us.
  • Monoculture: Thinking that there is only one "proper" American culture and when non-White people don't assimilate to it, they aren't behaving properly.
  • White moral elevation: Believing that White people are in charge of the world and have been entrusted with power through proper and just means and ways. This gives Whites a sense of "internalized superiority" when interacting with those of other races.

While this list is beneficial to our understandings of power, privilege and race in American society, the main point for this lesson is to understand the Meritocracy Myth. With regard to stratification on any level, a belief in the Meritocracy Myth allows us to see those who do not climb the economic ladder as somehow solely responsible for their own situation. Further, it allows us to see them as not deserving of help. Certainly there are people in any society who want to take advantage of systems and programs designed to help them but categorizing all people who need assistance this way is damaging to our social structure. Myriad research has shown that most people are reluctant to seek assistance and when they do it is a last ditch effort on their part to try and keep their heads above water. Demonizing the poor is one way that we continue to believe in the Meritocracy Myth — if we can just see those unfortunate people as having some inherent character flaw which has put them in their situation it allows us to turn our backs on them and to craft narrow social policy which does little to assist.

As an example of how insidious the Meritocracy Myth can be we need look no further than our educational system. Most of us have been through a school system (especially here in Brevard County) where are teachers and staff have mostly been White. Our history books often tend to fail to discuss social and economic policies that have resulted in prosperity for Whites over time and which of limited opportunities for others. Of course, we've learned about slavery, but we've learned little about the nations and cultures from which we took people. Likewise with our Native tribes of America – we have understood the tribes through the lens of whiteness via the reservation system, the ruthlessness of native warriors, and so on; we learned little about the culture, values, and beliefs system of our native tribes. Contemporarily, even though our population is being strongly influenced by immigrants from many different places around the world, our school textbooks do little to represent the influence of these groups on our shifting demographics and populations.

Presenting our society in terms of a monoculture allows us to perpetuate the Meritocracy Myth. When some groups don't do as well as others we can point to personal characteristics that we feel may be holding back group back even when in the face of consistent research by respected scholars the structure of society is implicated.

To begin to erase the Meritocracy Myth we instead need to look to the macro level forces which influence groups in different ways. If we can begin to value all groups on equal footing with regard to social policy, law, and practice then this type of myth will not be perpetuated in our society.

View the materials below on the characteristics/traits of the class structure in America today:


What are Sociologists Concerned About?

Some of the primary concerns for sociologists in the US today are: how flexible is the system? Does the system allow most of us to move up?

The answer is that the system is not very flexible, and while there is some movement, for most Americans, this does not significantly improve their class over their lifetime. Many Americans will spend their lives living in poverty--it is important for us to understand the different types of poverty that we can have:

There are two types of poverty: residual and transitional. The residual poor have a difficult struggle ahead of them, often living in poverty for their entire lifespan. There are often several issues these individuals face, such as addiction, chronic and persistant mental illness, mental retardation, disabilities, and a small support group. They often have very few resources to rely on during times of trial and frequently end up utilizing community resources such as homeless shelters, emergency assistance such as food or rent money, mental health resources, etc.

The transitional poor are "on the cusp" of poverty. They are living paycheck-to-paycheck, but when times get tough and they are faced with job loss, medical bills, divorce, grief, or mental illness, they have a support network to which they can turn. They can sleep on a friend's couch, they can find another job in a reasonable amount of time... In other words, they can be resourceful. There are times, however, when their stamina dwindles and they slip further into poverty and, at that time, they may be on their way to becoming the residual poor, in which case they may "pass" poverty onto their children.

Sociologists who study poverty in the US today are concerned that people who are transitionally poor are increasing in numbers in our society. Sociologists who specialize in the study of social problems try to use research to highlight problems related to stratification and they suggest or recommend governmental policy changes/amendments to address deficiencies to help get the poor back on track and moving toward prosperity. While not all groups of poor can be (or want to be) helped, most of the poor do want to move up socioeconomically.

What is the Social Problem?

The social problem is not necessarily stratification, but it is the unchecked poverty that heavily stratified societies seem to contain. Recall the information you learned about our major sociological theories. Each of the major theories describes stratification in different ways:

The information in this lesson on stratification and social class finds its foundation in conflict theory, whose proponents assert that there IS a social problem with our system of stratification and that the institutions and structures of society must be more reflexive to the issues of the poor.

However, there are some people assert that there isn't a significant social problem with stratification. Functional theorists believe that we must have a system of ranking in order for our society to work smoothly. Functional perspective asserts that we must reward those willing to take risks, and further, that those in poverty simply haven't taken advantage of all that society has to offer.

Read this classic article by Herbert Ganz, titled "The Positive Functions of Poverty." Written in the early '70s, this article points out that, in the US (and other developed nations) poor people serve functions for society (meaning that it is written from a functional theoretical perspective). Note that Gans is NOT advocating for a society which has a significant number of poor people in it, such as the United States does today. Instead, he is pointing out that poor people might be a necessity for heavily stratified societies to function. The question for sociologists (who would generally agree that there are too many poor people in the US) is how much poverty can (or will) our society bear.

Read "A Great Time to be Alive?" This article is written from a conflict perspective, and advocates for a reexamination of the concept of " redistribution of wealth."

From an interactionist perspective, we are concerned with how the poor are viewed by others, and more importantly, how the poor may view themselves in comparison to others. What are the impacts on poor children?

Read "Who are America's Poor Children: The Official Story" This article puts a face on the problems of childhood poverty.

The three articles presented above should help you to more clearly see how theorists from each school view stratification and social class issues in America.

The Great U-Turn

The Great U-Turn is a descriptive picture of social class over time in the US. It describes the economic reversal of America that began to occur in the 1970s. Two economists, Bennett Harrison and Barry Bluestone named this economic reversal the Great U-Turn, which shows that wages increased over time for most Americans (with the exception of the Great Depression) until about 1970, when it began to level off. Some theorize that the future will see an economic downturn for all classes in American society--this remains to be seen. If it does happen, one thing is "for sure:" the upper class will have wealth in place that will help to cushion the impacts of the loss of income due to falling wages and soaring inflation. The middle and the working classes will have little to no savings, stocks, or assets to help them when economic times get tough.

The Great U-Turn

How does the US Contribute to Global Stratification?

Just as the wealthy in the United States contribute to stratification within our society, wealthy nations contribute to global stratification.

When we talk about stratification in terms of inside the United States we refer to poverty as the biggest problem in the United States that stratification encourages. On a global level, instead of discussions which cite poverty alone as the biggest problem in any given society, we refer to DEVELOPMENT as the scale by which we measure global stratification. Because poverty is measured differently around the globe, using development as the indicator helps us to understand global stratification in terms of how countries rank against each other. In addition to the concept of development as a measurement for global stratification, for this course, you can think of development in a basic way: that is to say, development is a measurement of a country and how far along is with regard to several different measures as well as how that country stacks up against other countries. Some of the things that development measures are:

  • Economic indicators: Gross national product, gross domestic product, and so on.
  • Poverty thresholds: the minimum amount of money which is necessary for an adequate standard of living. This measurement can also be subdivided into two categories:
    • Absolute or extreme poverty: where people cannot meet their basic needs for survival; absolute poverty is also compared and contrasted to relative deprivation.
    • Moderate poverty: where people live on incomes which are still below the poverty line but not extreme; as an example, in less developed nations this figure would be equal to $1-$2 per day.
      • Relative deprivation: a person's perception of their standard of living compared to the society in which they live; in terms of global stratification this is the understanding of where you rank in terms of societies around the world.
  • Quality of life measures: life expectancy, health and literacy indicators, and political will and freedom.

As you can see, global stratification is measured by many different factors.

Contemporarily Industrial Revolution has contributed greatly to global stratification. Remember that in the West the Industrial Revolution took place a few hundred years ago. Now these countries are well on the way to a new social structure of post-industrialization. Today, there are many countries around the world which are just now experiencing their Industrial Revolutions. This means that large labor pools are available for post-industrialized countries to exploit. As an example, here in the United States our manufacturing base has been slowly dismantled and farmed to other countries around the world where people will work for less money than here in the United States. Problems related to this type of economic relationship are not only felt in the host country – they are also apparent here in America. When a country rapidly strips away its industrial base, workers are displaced on a grand scale. This contributes greatly to the economic issues that middle-class Americans are experiencing today. In addition, while on the surface it may seem a good thing to send work to other places around the world, this can also be problematic for nations which host factories and farms for some of our largest corporations. Many host nations experience a slowdown in their own economic progress as multinational corporations have no vested interest in developing the host nation — their only interest is in long-term cheap labor to make products and provide services to people who live in wealthy nations. Thus, the main focus of multinational corporations in less developed host nations is to keep profits high by minimizing labor and production costs. This leaves little money to help build the infrastructure of the host nation.

At a micro level however when a multinational corporation moves into a less developed nation, stability can be provided to individuals who are employed. What this means is that at the individual level, multinational corporations can prove to be beneficial. If you are able to find a job at a factory which affords you a consistent paycheck, you may find yourself and your family and a more stable economic situation than you may have been in without that job.

It is important for us, members of a very wealthy society, to understand the implications of global stratification not only as the impact the members of our own society but also as the impact the members of other less-developed nations around the world.


Sociologists and other academics are concerned about the impacts of poverty to individuals, families and to the structure of society. There are myriad social policy experts who have solutions to this problem--some of those solutions have been expressed in the articles and information presented in this lesson. It is important to us to understand that this lesson is the "tip of the iceberg" with regard to really delving into this issue--we have simply scraped the surface of some of the more obvious aspects of stratification. You are encouraged to continue to learn about this issue and to think about what the future solutions to this issue could be.

Global Stratification

Global stratification happens the same way that stratification does within the United States, however, on a larger scale and with some serious implications for the Earth's population.

The Global Divide

Inequality is an important determinant of human behavior. Throughout history we have seen how social conditions have impacted entire countries. When famine occurs, people revolt. When politics get in the way of self-determination, people revolt (think about the French Revolution!). Division among populations within countries have been around for centuries, but we really didn't begin to have a meaningful global divide until the onset of the Industrial Revolution. Within our world system, there continues to be sharp divides between industrial/developing nations.

Where do we Fit In?

With regard to global stratification, where does the United States fit in, and what are the criteria by which all countries are measured against each other?

There are 196 countries in the world, and the US is close to the top on all measures. Of course, the United States does well when compared against the other countries of the world, but we need to dig a little deeper in our comparison to come up with some interesting facts.

Global development is meansured by many key indicators: life expectancies, adequate diet, better education, better housing, more consumer goods, and so on. Some indicators matter more than others.

Some of the primary ways in which countries are compared against each other are:

  • Income - This is often referred to as the GNI measure, or Gross National Income. While measured at the country level, we are more concerned with the "per capita" measurement, which is a "per person" measurement. If we compare individuals in the US to those of other countries, here is how we stack up: of 196 countries on Earth, the US ranks 17th, behind other wealthy nations such as Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Australia, and the Netherlands.
  • Poverty - As compared to other wealthy nations, the United States measures its poverty differently. In most other wealthy countries, particularly those in the European Union, poverty is measured on a relative scale, meaning that those who are in poverty have a level that is relative to wealthy people in that country. In the United States. Poverty is measured at an absolute level, meaning that poverty is not a measure in comparison to other wealthier people. Rather, it is a calculation that the government makes based on access to food and ability to pay for food. Although most severe poverty is in the developing world, there is still a significant amount of poverty in the United States as compared to other wealthy nations. Many experts agree that the United States has a poverty rate that is embarrassing compared to other rich nations throughout the world. The childhood poverty rate in the United States is much higher than other developed nations. In comparison to other wealthy nations. The United States ranks behind Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Japan, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Italy with regard to numbers of children who live in poverty.
  • Hunger and Food Scarcity - The financial and economic crisis that erupted in 2008, has caused a dramatic increase in hunger in the United States. As of 2010, about 5% of all US households, which equals nearly 7,000,000 households, have food insecurity. This number increased by nearly 2,000,000 in three years (since 2007). Obviously hunger is principally caused by poverty. And reasons for poverty around the world and in the United States can vary. In the United States, our political system, which should address the major problems of all citizens can lead to some people living in poverty due to the disenfranchisement of certain groups. What this means is the normal operation of our economic and political systems will create a significant amount of poverty. In the United States. We have a free enterprise economy, in which there is competition for jobs, with good paying jobs going to the most qualified. There is also always a significant amount of unemployment. The power elite in our society have the power to allocate the profits of their business ventures, and in recent years, salaries have not kept pace with inflation. This means that more and more people in our society have less and less on which to live. We continue also to encourage a culture of inequality. People in America are segregated by income, often race, and gender. Employment segregation leads to a culture of any quality which allows hunger to exist. In other wealthy countries, the government intervenes more consistently in the free market, which allows regulation of profit and worker salaries, thus reducing hunger and food scarcity. In the United States our government is reluctant to intervene in the free market and therefore hunger and food scarcity becomes significant problems when the economy is in a recession or depression, such as it is now.
  • Literacy - The United States have a good literacy rate. The definition of literacy is the ability to read and write your own name, to write coherently, and to think critically about the written word. Generally it is measured at an eighth grade level. However, even in measuring literacy, the United States is behind Norway, Cuba, Poland, Australia, Belgium, Canada, and the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, and many other developed nations around the world.
  • Infant Mortality Rates - Infant mortality is the death of a child less than one year of age. While it is difficult to make cross-country comparisons due to differences in how infant mortality is to find, generally among wealthy, developed nations the United States does not compare well. It is theorized that the primary reason that the United States does not do as well as other developed countries relate to problems of access to healthcare. Because many other wealthy developed countries have some form of universal healthcare, ehile the United States system is a pay for services system, many people in the United States who are poor do not have the ability to obtain healthcare services. In particular, for pregnant women have a much higher infant mortality rate, then do women who have access to healthcare in our society. In comparison to other wealthy countries, the infant mortality rate in America Is higher than those of Japan, Sweden, Iceland, Italy, France, Spain, Finland, Norway, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Israel, South Korea, Belgium, Australia, the United Kingdom, Cuba, And dozens of other countries.

Some other interesting facts about how the US compares to other wealthy nations:

  • Working Hours - Among wealthy countries, workers in the United States have a higher weekly average of working hours than most other developed nations on earth.The only exceptions to this are Japan and Mexico. Recall from above that, for example, Norway does better than the United States with regard to income, poverty rates, hunger rates, literacy and infant mortality rates, yet workers in Norway work almost 10 hours per week less than workers in the United States. Why would this be? Again, we can point to worker protections in other countries which workers in the United States do not have as part of the answer to this question. Workers in other countries earn better salaries, and also have access to programs sponsored by the government, which help to offset the difference in income of working less hours. For example, universal healthcare, which is paid by taxpayer dollars, is not a benefit which is tied to work. In the United States, you must have a job in order to have healthcare. Of course, there are some exceptions to this: Medicare and Medicaid programs are in place to protect vulnerable populations in the United States. However, most adults who are able-bodied do not qualify for any government assistance with regard to health care. Instead, in the United States workers pay premiums to have health insurance in case something goes wrong with their health. This may explain why workers in the United States, work more hours than workers in other industrialized countries. Another example of a government-sponsored program to help workers is childcare. In other industrialized countries, the government heavily subsidize child care. This means that citizens in the workforce are assisted by the government and given vouchers to place children in day care while they are at work. This likely contributes to their ability to work less hours. In the United States such a system does not exist. Workers in America pay daycare for their own children, and this may be contributing to the higher number of hours they work each week.
  • Access to Technology - The United States lags behind with access to technology for all citizens. Particularly when we look at measures against other wealthy nations, we find that in the United States, there is a significant gap in access to technology for certain segments of our society where this gap does not exist in other wealthy countries. Again, it is theorized that because the government plays a more central role in access to technology, such as the Internet that there is more of an effort to make sure that all people and all segments of the population have access to technology. Access to technology is one of the primary ways in which an individual can lift him or herself out of poverty. In the United States while access to technology generally is very good, poor people do not have the same access as others who are more fortunate. This allows the cycle of poverty to continue.
  • Military Spending - United States spends more on its military than any other industrialized country. Military spending is the largest single contributor to our national budget. The average percentage of military spending of a nation's budget is about 2.5%. In the United States. That figure is 4.4%, and that number is higher than every other nation on earth. One of the issues with this kind of spending is that when money is spent on the military, other social services do not get funded. The difference in just 1% of the total United States budget is billions of dollars. With this kind of money being funneled towards military spending, we must ask the question: what is it that we aren't funding?

Population and Social Structures

There are many institutions that have a stake in fertility rates. While we think of the decision to have children as a very personal decision, the decision we make is not made independent of social influences and forces. Where esteem and power are linked to childbearing, rates of birth are high--and the consequences are that population doubles very quickly causing the need for government budget doubling just to maintain current levels of support. What steps can be taken to lower an extremely high birth rate? Where esteem is not tied to childbearing, rather to education and career, rates of birth are low--and the consequences cause larger elder populations and smaller younger populations, impacting the labor market and provision for social services from the government. Who will work when society gets older and there are less workers to replace those who retire? Who will pay into the systems of care we need to care for an aging population?

What steps can be taken to raise an extremely low birth rate or to control high birth rates?

Fertility and Environment

High fertility, and in particular, high fertility in poor countries, can have devastating environmental problems. High population growth nations have more famine and starvation, and the rest of the world has a stake in developing policies to alleviate population concerns in these countries. One example of how populations in poor countries contributes to environmental devastation are highlighted by the environmental problems in the country of Haiti. In Haiti, many poor people couldn't afford fuel to cook. Most poor people in Haiti, which is a significant percentage of the population, instead turn to chopping down trees so that they could have fires to cook food. It didn't take long for deforestation to have a significant impact on the entire country.

Haiti shares a common border with the Dominican Republic. Take a look at the photograph which shows the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, with Haiti on the left and the Dominican Republic on the right:

Deforestation of Haiti

It is obvious that there are environmental issues associated with the complete deforestation of an entire region of the country, and this is part of the reason why wealthier countries have a stake in helping to alleviate poverty in poor countries. In Haiti, the poor are destitute. It is important for other wealthy countries to help come up with solutions to the problem of deforestation as it is directly related to human rights--an issue in which we all have a stake as global citizens.

While it may be easy not to think about issues in Haiti, powerful nations around the world have had a hand in the creation of global inequality. In the same year the Christopher Columbus came to America, he claimed Haiti for Spain. Centuries of enslavement ensued for the native population. As the native population began to decline the Spanish governors in Haiti began to import enslaved African workers. By about 1800 Haiti had become the richest French colony on Earth, largely due to the slave labor that worked the sugar cane fields. The system of slavery was so oppressive that many slaves died within a few years of being forced to work in the sugar fields. Many slaves died from disease, and many slave women were suspected of abortions and infanticide to prohibit their children from growing up in such an oppressive society. Haiti was extremely volatile place to live for many centuries, and in the early 1900s the United States occupied Haiti for 20 years. The United States took over all key government roles, and assumed responsibility for maintaining domestic peace. America took control of Haiti's national government and budget. Once the United States pulled out (in the mid 1903s), research supports that those left behind began to run the country by violence. Review the video on Wallerstein's World Systems Analysis for definition of colonialism and neo-colonialism as well as for additonal theories which describle globalization.

As you can see Haiti's history of colonization and its subsequent neo-colonization had been problematic for many centuries. While it might be easy to turn a blind eye to problems that aren't in our own backyard, we have contributed to these issues and therefore should be responsible for helping to fix them. The legacy of colonialism forces some countries into a state of continued dependence on industrialized nations, and Haiti is one of these examples.

Conclusion: Universal Human Rights

We all, as citizens of an increasingly small world, have a stake in human rights.

Human rights have been defined by many governments, religions, international organizations, and political groups. While definitions can vary from institution to institution, most definitions include reference to a standard of living which ensures basic health and well-being and the right to security of food, clothing, shelter and necessary services.

Some agencies and institutions include economic rights as part of their human rights statement, and as multinational corporations can be larger than some of the governments of countries in which their labor pools and factories reside, this is an important distinction. Corporations move factories to less-developed nations in order to secure cheap labor. This represses the economy of the local community. One way to ensure that multinational corporations are fairly treating workers is to require them to pay a fair share of the social services costs in the community in which their factory resides. Another way is by applying pressure by not purchasing items that are manufactured by corporations which refuse to take care of communities surrounding their factories. This requires some effort on the part of consumers to be diligent in investigating the practices of companies from which they purchase goods and services.

The United Nations has a lengthy Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, it is recognized as the foremost document dealing with the rights of human beings worldwide.

You are encouraged to do additional investigating on this very complex issue.