Explore BrainMass

Social Stratification & Mobility: Bill Gates Case Study

Theoretical perspectives of social stratification

Consider the life story of Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft Corporation, to analyze the issue of social stratification through the three theoretical perspectives. Mr. Gates was born to a middle-class family. His mother was a school teacher and his father an attorney. Mr. Gates is now one of the wealthiest men on the planet. Read his biography at:

Respond to the following:

Explain how this ordinary, middle-class citizen moved to the top of the social stratification system using each of the sociological perspectives.

Determine why none of the theories support a concept of equal yet different social stratification.

Include a discussion that would explain, through one or more of the sociological perspectives, how a person could experience just the opposite by moving from a person of wealth and social notoriety to living in poverty.

Solution Preview

Dear Student,

The solution below has been written to help you with the problem you posted. It takes on all the questions you presented and provides answers via example. Please note though that I am assuming that you understand the sociological perspectives/theories I have enumerated at the end - after all this is a sociological analysis of a subject and therefore previous knowledge on sociological theories are necessary in providing that analysis. Thank you for using Brainmass. This solution is written in the APA format, references are provided and a word version is attached for easy printing.

Thank you for using

OTA 105878/Xenia Jones

Bill Gates Biography: a qualitative sociological narrative

- Early Life (1955 - 1973) - Born to an upper middle class family with a lawyer father and a University regent mother, Bill gates early on was born to a family that while not completely wealthy was able to afford him of a great social foundation in terms of the academe and socio-economic exposure. As with upper middle class families, his parents dreamed of a great future for him in law or other similar professional pursuits. This meant that he had a great support team in terms of social development, that he went to the best schools his family and his ability could afford and was exposed to upper middle class lifestyle and values including access to the latest technology for the masses (he went to exclusive Lakeside Preparatory School where he was first exposed to computer programming). Hence, it was no surprise that he ended up in Harvard University with some of the more promising students of his generation having scored 1590 out of the 1600 points on the SAT, part of it credited to his 170 IQ.

- Ideas & Microsoft (1973-1975) - Meeting Steve Ballmer in Harvard and keeping in touch with childhood friend Paul Allen drove the young Harvard student Gates to focus his attention in computer programming. While drifting along in his academics as he did not have a definite university study plan, he found himself gravitating towards the application of personal ideas in terms of software programming. By 1975, Gates was in contact with MITS creators of the first generation micro computer Altair 8800 and soon after signed a deal in which Gates & Allen provided an Altair emulator and BASIC interpreter. Soon after, Gates took a leave of absence from Harvard and began the seeds of Microsoft, now the World's biggest software provider. While one can see the incredible stroke of luck that Gates received, it was his acumen for programming and I.T. that led him to be in contact with the right people at the right time to have enabled him to see his ideas through. While he did not finish his degree, the fact that he was in the company of the more ...

Solution Summary

The solution provides an analysis of social stratification by looking at the life of Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates - his childhood, his corporate success and his entry into a world of power and privilege. Social mobility as a concept and as a social element is used in the analysis through the qualitative method from a sociological perspective. The solution is in the form of an essay following the APA-format. A word version is attached for easy printing.